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JUSTIN McCarthy 




Vol. III. 





Copyright, 190., by Ha«pei! & Brothers. 

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"supreme iroxic processiox." 

For six and forty years England had been ruled by 
German princes. One Elector of Hanover named George 
had been succeeded bv another Elector of Hanover named 
George, and George the First and George the Second, 
George the father and George the son, resembled each other 
in being by nature German rather than English, and by 
inclination Electors of Hanover rather than Kings of Eng- 
land. Against each of them a Stuart prince had raised a 
standard and an army. George the First had his James 
Francis Edward, who called himself James the Third, and 
whom his opponents called the Pretender, by a translation 
which gave an injurious signification to the French word 
" pretendant." George the Second had his Charles Edward, 
the Young Pretender who a generation later led an in- 
vading army well into England before he had to turn and 
fly for his life. A very different condition of things await- 
ed the successor of George the Second. George the 
Second's grandson was an English prince and an English- 
man. He was born in England; his father was born in 
England; his native tongue was the English tongue; and 
if he was Elector of Hanover, that seemed an accident. 

The title was as unimportant and trivial to the King of 
VOL. ni. — 1 


England as his title of King of France was unreal and 
theatrical. The remnant of the Jacobites could not 
with truth call the heir to the throne a foreigner, and 
they could not in reason hope to make such a demonstra- 
tion in arms against him as they had made against his 
grandfather and his great-grandfather. The young King 
came to a much safer throne under much more favorable 
auspices than either of the two monarchs, his kinsmen and 
his namesakeS;, who had gone before him. 

The young King heard the first formal news of his 
accession to the throne from the lips of no less stately a 
personage than the Great Commoner himself — the foremost 
Englishman then alive. George the Third, as he then 
actually was, had received at Kew Palace some messages 
which told him that his grandfather was sinking fast, that 
he was dying, that he was dead. George resolved to start 
for London. On his way, and not far from Kew, he was 
met by a coach and six, which, from the blue and silver 
liveries, he knew to be that of Mr. Pitt. George received 
the congratulations of his great minister — the great Minis- 
ter whom, as it was soon to appear, he understood so little 
and esteemed so poorly. Then Pitt, turning his horses^ 
heads, followed his sovereign into London. Never perhaps 
in English history was a young king welcomed on his 
accession by so great a minister. Among the many auspi- 
cious conditions which surrounded the early days of 
George the Third's reign not the least auspicious was the 
presence of such a bulwark to the throne and to the realm. 
For the name of Pitt was now feared and honored in every 
civilized country in the world. It had become synonymous 
with the triumphs and the greatness of England. Pitt was 
the greatest War Minister England had yet known. He 
was the first English statesman who illustrated in his own 
person the difference between a War Minister and a Minis- 
ter of War. 

Truly this journey of the King and the Prime Minister 
from Kew to London was what George Meredith calls a 
" supreme ironic procession, with laughter of gods in the 
background." The ignorant, unwise young King led the 


way, the greatest living statesman in England followed 
after. One can hardly imagine a procession more su- 
premely ironic. Almost all the whole range of human 
intellect was stretched out and exhausted b}^ the living 
contrast between the King who went first and the Minister 
vrho meekly went second. Pitt had made for young 
George the Third a great empire, which it was the work of 
George the Third not long after to destroy, so far as its de- 
struction could be compassed by the stupidity of a man. 
Pitt had made the name of England a power all over the 
civilized world. Rome at her greatest, Spain at her great- 
est, could hardly have surpassed the strength and the 
fame of England as Pitt had re-made it. George, from 
the very first, felt a sort of coldness towards his superb 
Minister. He had all the vague pervading jealousy which 
dulness naturally shows to genius. It was a displeasure 
to him from the first that Pitt should have made Eng- 
land so great, because the work was the inspiration of the 
subject and not of the sovereign. ]^o one can know for 
certain what thoughts were filling the mind of George as 
he rode to London that day in front of William Pitt. But 
it may fairly be assumed that he was not particularly 
sorry for the death of his grandfather, and that he was 
pleasing his spirit with the idea that he would soon emanci- 
pate himself from Mr. Pitt. " Be a king, George,'^ his 
mother used to say to him. The unsifted youth was deter- 
mined, if he could, to be a king. 

At the time of his accession George was in his twenty- 
third year. He was a decidedly personable young Prince. 
He had the large regular features of his race, the warm 
complexion of good health, and a vigorous constitution, 
keen attractive eyes, and a firm, full mouth. He was tall 
and strongly made, and carried himself with a carriage 
that was dignified or stiff according to the interpretation 
of those who observed it. Many of the courtly ladies 
thought him extremely handsome, were eagerly gracious 
to him, did their best to thrust themselves upon his atten- 
tion, and received, it would seem, very little notice in re- 
turn for their pains. If George showed himself indif- 


ferent and even ungallant to his enthusiastic admirers, 
his brother Edward Avas of a different disposition. But 
though Edward, like his brother, was an agreeable-looking 
youth, and keen to win favor in women's eyes, he found 
himself like Benedict: nobodv marked him because he was 
not the heir to the throne. 

In some illustrated histories of the reign two portraits 
of George the Third are placed in immediate and pathetic 
contrast. The one portrait represents George as he showed 
in the first year of his reign — alert, young, smiling, with 
short-cut powdered hair, a rich flowered coat, and the star 
and ribbon of the Garter on his breast. So might a young 
king look called in the flower of his age to the control of 
a great country, pleased, confident, and courageous. The 
other picture shows how the King looked in the sixtieth 
year of his reign. The face is old and wrinkled and weary ; 
the straggling white locks escape from beneath a fur- 
trimmed cap; the bowed body is wrapped in a fur- 
trimmed robe. The time of two generations of men lay 
between the young king and the old; the longest reign 
then known to English history, the longest and the most 

George the Third started with many advantages over 
his predecessors of the same name. He was an English- 
man. He spoke the English language. It w^as his sincere 
wdsh to be above all things English. He honestly loved 
English ways. He had not the faintest desire to start a 
seraglio in England. He had no German mistresses. He 
did not care about fat women. He was devoted to his 
mother — perhaps a good deal too devoted, but even the 
excess of devotion might have been pardonable in the pub- 
lic opinion of England; certainly it was only his own 
weakness and perversity that made it for a while not 
pardonable. He was of the country squire's order of mind ; 
his tastes were wholly those of the stolid, well-intentioned, 
bucolic country squire. He would probably have been a 
very respectable and successful sovereign if only he had 
not been plagued by the ambition to be a king. 

It is curious to remember that the accession of George 


the Third was generally and joyfully welcomed. A hope- 
ful people, having endured with increasing dislike two 
sovereigns of the House of Hanover, were quite prepared 
to believe that a third prince was rich in all regal qualities. 
in all public and private virtues. It would, perhaps, have 
been unreasonable on the part of any dispassionate ob- 
server of public affairs to anticipate that a third George 
would make a worse monarch than his namesakes and 
immediate predecessors. The dispassionate observer might 
have maintained that there were limits to kingly mis- 
government in a kingdom endowed with a Constitution 
and blessed with a measure of Parliamentary representa- 
tion, and that those limits had been fairly reached by the 
two German princes who ruled reluctantly enough over 
the fortunes of England. This same dispassionate ob- 
server might reasonably, assuming him to possess familiar 
knowledge of certain facts, have hazarded the prediction 
that George the Third would be a better king than his 
grandfather and his great-grandfather. He was certainly 
a better man. There was so much of a basis whereupon to 
build a hope of better things. The profligacy of his an- 
cestors had not apparently vitiated his blood and judg- 
ment. His young life had been a pure life. He was in 
that way a pattern to princes. He had been, which was 
rare with his race, a good son. He was to be — and there 
was no more rare quality in one of his stock — a good 
husband, a good father. He was in his way a good friend 
to his friends. He was sincerely desirous to prove himself 
a good king to his people. 

The youth of George the Third had passed under some- 
what agitated conditions. George the Second's straight- 
forward hatred for his son's wife opened a great gulf 
between the Court and Leicester House, which no true 
courtier made any effort to bridge. While the young 
Prince knew, in consequence, little or nothing of the atmos- 
phere of St. James's or the temper of those who breathed 
that atmosphere, attempts were not wanting to sunder him 
from the influence of his mother. Some of the noblemen 
and clergymen to whom the early instruction of the young 


Prince was entrusted labored with a persistency which 
would have been admirable in some other cause to sever 
him not merely from all his father's friends but even 
from his father's wife. There was indeed a time when 
their efforts almost succeeded in alienating the young 
Prince from his mother. The wildest charges of Jacobi- 
tism were brought against the immediate servants of the 
Princess, charges which those who made them wholly 
failed to substantiate. The endeavor to remove the Prince 
from the tutelage of his mother was abandoned. The 
education of the Prince was committed to more sympa- 
thetic care. The change had its advantage in keeping 
George in the wholesome atmosphere of Leicester House 
instead of exposing him to the temptations of a profligate 
Court. It had its disadvantages in leaving him entirely 
under the influence of a man to whose guidance, counsel, 
and authority the Princess Dowager absolutely submitted 

Observers of the lighter sort are pleased to insist upon 
the trifles which have the most momentous influence upon 
the fortunes of peoples and the fates of empires. A 
famous and facile French playwright derived the down- 
fall of a favorite and of a political revolution from the 
spilling of a glass of water. There are times when the 
temptation to pursue this thread of fancy is very great. 
Suppose, for instance, it had not chanced to rain on a 
certain day at Clifden, when a cricket match was being 
played in which Frederick, Prince of Wales, happened to 
be interested. A fretted Prince Avould not have had to 
retire to his tent like Achilles, would not have insisted 
on a game of whist to cheer his humor. There would 
have been no difficulty in forming a rubber. There would 
have been no need to seek for a fourth hand. No wistful 
gentleman-in-attendance seeking the desirable would have 
had to ask the aid of a strange nobleman perched in an 
apothecary's chariot. Had this strange nobleman not been 
so sought and found, had the apothecary not been wealthy 
enough to keep a chariot, and friendly enough to offer a 
poor Scotch gentleman a seat in it, it is possible that the 

1760. LORD BUTE. 7 

American Colonies might yet form portion and parcel of 
the British Empire, that Chatham's splendid dreams might 
have become still more splendid realities, that the name 
of Wilkes might never have emerged from an obscurity 
of debauch to association with the name of liberty. For 
the nobleman who made the fourth hand in the Prince of 
Wales's rubber was unfortunately a man of agreeable 
address and engaging manners, manners that pleased in- 
finitely the Prince of Wales, and cemented a friendship 
most disastrous in its consequences to England, to the Eng- 
lish j)eople, and to an English king. The name of the en- 
gaging nobleman was Lord Bute. 

At the time of this memorable game of whist Lord Bute 
was thirty-six years old. He was well educated, well read, 
tall of body, pleasing of countenance, quick in intelligence, 
and curious in disposition. These qualities won the heart 
of the Prince of Wales, and lifted the young Scotch noble- 
man from poverty and obscurity to prominence and favor. 
The Prince appointed Bute a Lord of the Bedchamber 
and welcomed him to his most intimate friendship. The 
death of the Prince of Wales two years later had no disas- 
trous effect upon the rising fortunes of the favorite. The 
influence which Bute had exercised over the mind of 
Frederick he exercised over the mind of Frederick's wife 
and over the mind of Frederick's heir. Scandal whisper- 
ed, asserted, insisted then and has insisted ever since, that 
the influence which Lord Bute exercised over the Princess 
of Wales was not merely a mental influence. How far 
scandal was right or wrong there is no means, there prob- 
ably never will be any means, of knowing. Lord Bute's 
defenders point to his conspicuous affection for his wife, 
Edward Wortley Montagu's only daughter, in contraven- 
tion of the scandal. Undoubtedly Bute was a good hus- 
band and a good father. Whether the scandal was justi- 
fied or not, the fact that it existed, that it was widely blown 
abroad and very generally believed, was enough. As far 
as the popularity of the Princess was concerned it might as 
well have been justified. For years no caricature was so 
popular as that which displayed the Boot and the Petti- 


coat, the ironic popular symbols of Lord Bute and the 

By whatever means Lord Bute gained his influence over 
the Princess of Wales, he undoubtedly possessed the influ- 
ence and used it with disastrous effect. He moulded the 
feeble intelligence of the young Prince George; he guided 
his thoughts, directed his studies in statecraft, and was to 
all intents and purposes the governor of the young Prince's 
person. The young Prince could hardly have had a worse 
adviser. Bute was a man of many merits, but his defects 
were in the highest degree dangerous in a person who had 
somehow become possessed of almost absolute power. In 
the obscurity of a private life, the man who had borne 
poverty with dignity at an age when poverty was pecul- 
iarly galling to one of his station might have earned the 
esteem of his immediate fellows. In the exaltation of a 
great if an unauthorized rule, and later in the authority 
of an important public office, his defects were fatal to his 
fame and to the fortunes of those who accepted his sway. 
For nearly ten years, from the death of Frederick, Prince 
of Wales, to the death of George the Second, Bute was all- 
powerful in his influence over the mother of the future 
King and over the future King himself. When the young 
Prince came to the throne Lord Bute did not immediately 
assume ostensible authority. He remained the confidential 
adviser of the young King until 1761. In 1761 he took 
office, assuming the Secretaryship of State resigned by 
Lord Holdernesse. From a secretaryship to the place of 
Prime Minister was but a step, and a step soon taken. 
Although he did not occupy office very long, he held it 
long enough to become perhaps the most unpopular Prime 
Minister England has ever had. 

The youth of George the Third was starred with a 
strange romance. The full truth of the story of Hannah 
Lightfoot will probably never be known. What is known 
is sufficiently romantic without the additions of legend. 
Hannah Lightfoot was a beautiful Quaker girl, the daugh- 
ter of a decent tradesman in Wapping. Association with 
the family of an uncle, a linendraper, who lived near the 


Court, brought the girl into the fashionable part of the 
town. The young Prince saw her by accident somehow, 
somewhere, in the early part of 1754, and fell in love with 
her. From that moment the girl disappears from certain 
knowledge, and legend busies itself with her name. It is 
asserted that she was actually married to the young Prince ; 
that William Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, was 
present at the marriage; that she bore the Prince several 
children. Other versions have it that she was married as a 
mere form to a man named Axford, who immediately 
left her, and that after this marriage she lived with the 
Prince. She is supposed to have died in a secluded villa in 
Hackney. It is said that not only the wife of George the 
Third but the wife of George the Fourth believed that 
the marriage had taken place. We must not attach too 
much importance to a story which in itself is so very un- 
likely. It is in the last degree improbable that a states- 
man like Pitt would have lent himself to so singular a 
proceeding. Even if an enamoured young Prince were 
prepared to sanction his affections by a marriage, he would 
scarcely have found an assistant in the ablest politician 
of the age. The story of the Axford marriage is far more 
probable. If Hannah Lightfoot had been married to 
George she would have been Queen of England, for there 
was no Royal Marriage Act in those days. 

Another and more famous romance is associated with 
the youth of George the Third. Lady Sarah Lennox, the 
youngest daughter of the second Duke of Richmond, was 
one of the most beautiful women of her time. The writers 
of the day rave about her, describe her as *^ an angel," as 
lovelier than any Magdalen by Correggio. When she was 
only seventeen years old her beauty attracted the young 
King, who soon made no secret of his devotion to her. 
The new passion divided the Court into two camps. The 
House of Lennox was eager to bring about a marriage, 
which was not then obstructed by the law. Henry Fox, 
one of the most ambitious men of that time or of any 
time, was Lady Sarah's brother-in-law, and he did his 
best to promote the marriage. On the other hand, the 


party which followed the lead of the Princess Dowager 
and Lord Bute fought uncomproinisingl}^ against the 
scheme. The Princess Dowager had everything to lose, 
Lord Bute had everything to lose, by such an alliance. 
The power of the Princess Dowager over the young King 
would vanish, and the influence of Lord Bute over the 
Princess Dowager would cease to have any political im- 
portance. Lord Bute did all he could to keep the lovers 
apart. Henry Fox did all he could to bring the lovers 
together. For lovers they undoubtedly were. George 
again and again made it plain to those who were in his 
confidence that he was in love with Lady Sarah, and was 
anxious to make her his queen; and Lady Sarah, though 
her heart is said to have been given to Lord Newbottle, 
was quite ready to yield to the wishes of her family when 
those wishes were for the crown of Enojland. On the 
meadows of Holland House the beautiful girl, loveliest of 
Arcadian rustics, would play at making hay till her royal 
lover came riding by to greet her. 

But the idyll did not end in the marriage for which Fox 
and the Lennoxes hoped. It is said that the King was 
jealous of Lord Newbottle; it is said that a sense of duty 
to his place and to his people made him resolve to subdue 
and sacrifice his own personal feelings. He offered his 
hand and his crown to the Princess of Mecklenburg- 
Strelitz. Lady Sarah lost both her lovers, the King and 
Lord Newbottle, who, in the words of Grenville, " com- 
plained as much of her as she did of the King.'^ But she 
did not remain long unmarried. In 1762 she accepted as 
husband the famous sporting Baronet Sir Thomas Charles 
Bunbury, and nineteen years later she married the Hon. 
George Napier, and became the mother of an illustrious 
pair of soldier brothers. Sir Charles Napier, the hero of 
Scinde, and Sir William Napier, perhaps the best military 
historian since Julius Caesar. Lady Sarah died in 1826, 
in her eighty-second year. In her later years she had be- 
come totally blind, and she bore her affliction with a sweet 
patience. At her death she is described by the chroniclers 
of the time as " probably the last surviving great-grand- 


daughter of King Charles the Second." A barren honor, 

The young Princess whom George married was in many 
ways well and even excellently qualified to make a good 
queen. It is said that she was discovered for her young 
husband after a fashion something resembling a tale from 
the "Arabian Xights." The Princess Dowager, eager to 
counteract the fatal effect of the beauty of Lady Sarah 
Lennox, was anxious to have the young King married as 
soon as possible. Her own wishes were in favor of a 
daughter of the House of Saxe-Gotha, but it is said that 
fear of a disease hereditary in the family overruled her 
wishes. Then, according to the story, a Colonel Graeme, 
a Scotch gentleman upon whose taste Lord Bute placed 
great reliance, was sent on a kind of roving embassy to the 
various little German Courts in search of the ideal bride. 
The lad}^ of the quest was, according to the instructions 
given to Colonel Graeme, to be at once beautiful, healthy, 
accomplished, of mild disposition, and versed in music, 
an art to which the King was much devoted. Colonel 
Graeme, with this pleasing picture of feminine graces 
ever in his mind, found the original of the portrait in 
Charlotte Sophia, the second daughter of Charles Lewis 
Frederick, Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. 

There is another version of the manner of George's woo- 
ing which nullifies the story of Colonel Graeme's romantic 
mission. According to this other version George fell in 
love with his future queen simply from reading a letter 
written by her. The tale sounds as romantic as that of the 
Provencal poet's passion for the portrait of the Lady of 
Tripoli. It is true, however, that the letter of Charlotte 
Sophia was something of the nature of a state paper. The 
Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, of which the Princess 
Charlotte's brother was the sovereign, had been overrun 
by the troops of the King of Prussia. The young Princess 
wrote a letter to the Prussian King, which came to George's 
notice and inspired him, it is said, with the liveliest admira- 
tion for the lady who penned it. Whatever the actual 
reason, whether the report of Colonel Graeme or the 


charms of her epistolary style, the certain thing is that 
George was married, first by proxy and afterwards in due 
form, to the young Princess in 1761. The young Princess 
was not remarkably beautiful. Even the courtiers of the 
day, anxious to say their strongest in her praise, could not 
do much more than commend her eyes and complexion 
and call her " a very fine girl," while those who were not 
inclined to flatter said her face was all mouth, and de- 
clared, probably untruly, that the young King was at first 
obviously repelled by the plainness of his wife's appear- 
ance. If she was plain, her plainness, as Northcote, the 
painter, said, was an elegant, not a vulgar plainness, and 
the grace of her carriage much impressed him. Walpole 
found her sensible, cheerful, and remarkably genteel, a 
not inconsiderable eulogy from him. She was fairly edu- 
cated, as the education of princesses went in those days. 
She knew French and Italian, knew even a little English. 
She had various elegant accomplishments — could draw, 
and dance, and play, had acquired a certain measure of 
scientific knowledge, and she had what was better than all 
these attainments, a good, kindly, sensible nature. The 
marriage could hardly be called a popular marriage at 
first. Statesmen and politicians thought that the King of 
England ought to have found some more illustrious con- 
sort than the daughter of a poor and petty German House. 
The people at large, we are told from a private letter of 
the time, were " quite exasperated at her not being hand- 
some," beauty in a sovereign being a great attraction to 
the mass of subjects. The courtiers in general were 
amused by, and secretly laughed at, her simple ways and 
old-fashioned — or at least un-English — manners. 

After the wedding came the coronation, a very resplend- 
ent ceremony, which was not free from certain somewhat 
ludicrous features, and was not denied a certain tragic 
dignity. It was enormously expensive. Horace Walpole 
called it a puppet-show that cost a million. Loyal London 
turned out in its thousands. Surprisingly large sums of 
money were paid for rooms and scaffolds from which the 
outdoor sight could be seen, and much larger were paid 


for places inside the Abbey. It was very gorgeous, very 
long, and very fatiguing. The spectator carried away, 
with aching senses, a confused memory of many soldiers, 
of great peers ill at ease in unbecoming habits, of beautiful 
women beautifully attired, of a blaze of jewels that recalled 
the story of Aladdin's mine, and of the wonderful effect 
by which the darkness of Westminster Hall was suddenly 
illuminated by an ingenious arrangement of sconces that 
caught fire and carried on the message of light with great 
rapidity. The heralds in whose hands the ceremonial 
arrangements lay bungled their business badly, causing 
fierce heartburnings by confusions in precedence, and 
displaying a lamentable ignorance of the names and the 
whereabouts of many wearers of stately and ancient titles. 
When the King expressed his annoyance at some of the 
blunders, Lord Effingham, the Earl Marshal, offered, for 
amazing apology, the assurance that the next coronation 
would be conducted with perfect order, an unfortunate 
speech, which had, however, the effect of affording the 
King infinite entertainment. The one tragic touch in the 
whole day's work may be legend, but it is legend that 
might be and that should be truth. When Dymoke, the 
King's Champion, rode, in accordance with the antique 
usage, along Westminster Hall, and flung his glove down 
in challenge to any one who dared contest his master's 
right to the throne of England, it is said that some one 
darted out from the crowd, picked up the glove, slipped 
back into the press, and disappeared, without being stopped 
or discovered. According to one version of the incident, it 
was a woman who did the deed; according to another it 
Avas Charles Edward himself, the Young Pretender — now 
no longer so very young — who made this last protest on 
behalf of his lost fortunes and his fallen House. It is 
possible, it is even probable, that Charles Edward was in 
London then and thereafter, and it seems certain that if 
he was in London King George knew of it and ignored it 
in a chivalrous and kingly way. The Young Pretender 
could do no harm now. Stuart hopes had burned high for 
a moment, fifteen years earlier, when a handsome young 


Prince carried his invading flag halfway through England, 
and a King who was neither handsome nor young was ready 
to take ship from Tower Stairs if worse came of it. But 
those hopes were quenched now, down in the dust, extin- 
guished forever. No harm could come to the House of 
Hanover, no harm could come to the King of England, if 
at Lady Primrose's house in St. James's Square a party 
should be interrupted by the entrance of an unexpected 
guest, of a man prematurely aged by dissipation and dis- 
appointment, a melancholy ruin of what had once been 
fair and noble, and in whom his amazed and reverent 
hostess recognized the last of the fated Stuarts. There 
were spies among those who still professed adherence 
to Charles Edward and allegiance to his line, spies bearing 
names honorable in Scottish history, who were always 
ready to keep George and George's ministers posted in the 
movements of the unhappy Prince they betrayed. George 
could afford to be magnanimous, and George was magnani- 
mous. If it pleased the poor Pretender to visit, like a 
premature ghost, the city and the scenes associated with 
his House and its splendor and its awful tragedies, he did 
so untroubled and unharmed. It was but a cast of the 
dice in Fortune's fingers, and Charles Edward would have 
been in Westminster Hall and had a champion to assert 
his right. But the cast of the dice went the other way, 
and George the Third was King, and his little German 
Princess was Queen of England. 

It is probable that those early days in London were the 
happiest in the little Queen's long life. She had come 
from exceeding quiet to a great and famous city; she was 
the centre of splendor; she was surrounded by splendid 
figures ; she was the first lady of a great land ; she was the 
queen of a great king; she was the fortunate wife of a 
loyal, honorable, and pure-minded man. She was young, 
she was frank, she was fond of all innocent pleasures, 
keenly alive to all the entertainment that Court and 
capital could ofi'er her. She crammed more gayeties into 
the first few days of her marriage than she had dreamed 
of in all her previous life. The girl, who had never seen 


the sea until she took ship for England, had never seen a 
play acted until she came to London. Mecklenburg- Stre- 
litz had its own strong ideas about the folly and frivolity 
of the stage, and no Puritan maiden in the sternest days 
of Cromwellian ascendency, no Calvinist daughter of the 
most rigorous Scottish household, could have been edu- 
cated in a more austere ignorance of the arts that are sup- 
posed to embellish and that are intended to amuse exist- 
ence. She went to playhouse after playhouse, alarmed 
at the crowds that thronged the streets to see her, but 
fascinated by the delights that awaited her within the 
walls. She attended the opera. She saw " The Beggar's 
Opera,*^ which may have charmed her for its story without 
perplexing her by its satire. She saw " The Rehearsal," 
and did not dream that twenty years later the humors of 
Bayes, which she probably did not understand, would be 
eclipsed forever by the fantasies of Mr. Puff. She car- 
ried the King to Ranelagh, to that amazing, enchanting 
assembly where all the world made masquerade, and man- 
darins, harlequins, shepherdesses, and much-translated 
pagan divinities jostled each other through Armida's 
gardens, where the pink of fashion and the plain citizen, 
the patrician lady and the plebeian waiting-maid made 
merry together in a motley rout of Comus, and marvelled 
at the brilliancy of the illuminations and the many-colored 
glories of the fireworks. 

The London to which the little Princess came, and which 
she found so full of entertainment, was a very different 
London from the city for which the first of the Georges 
had quitted reluctantly the pleasures of Hanover and the 
gardens of Herrenhausen. The Hanoverian princes had 
never tried, as the Stuart sovereigns had tried, to stop by 
peremptory legislation the spread of the metropolis. Lon- 
don had been steadily spreading in the half-century of 
Guelph dominion, eating up the green fields in all direc- 
tions, linking itself with little lonely hamlets and tiny 
rustic villages, and weaving them close into the web of its 
being, choking up rural streams and blotting out groves 
and meadows with monuments of brick and mortar. Where 


the friends of George the First could have hunted and 
gunned and found refreshment in secluded country ale- 
houses, the friends of George the Third were familiar with 
miles of stony streets and areas of arid squares. London 
was not then the monster city that another century and 
a half has made it, but it was even more huge in its pro- 
portion to the size of any of its rivals, if rivals they could 
be called, among the large towns of England. The great 
city did not deserve the adjective that is applied to it by 
the poet of Chevy Chase. London was by no means lovely. 
However much it might have increased in size, it had in- 
creased very little in beauty, and not at all in comfort 
since the days when an Elector of Hanover became King 
of England. It still compared only to its disadvantage 
with the centres of civilization on the Continent; it still 
was rich in all the dangers and all the discomforts Gay 
had celebrated nearly two generations earlier. And these 
dangers and discomforts were not confined to London. 
The world beyond London was a world of growing pro- 
vincial towns and increasing seaports connected by toler- 
able and sometimes admirable highways, and of smaller 
towns and villages reduced for the most part to an almost 
complete isolation by roads that were always nearly and 
often quite impassable. To travel much in England in 
those days was scarcely less adventurous even for an Eng- 
lishman than to travel in Africa to-day; for a foreigner 
the adventure was indeed environed by perils. 

Dress and manners had changed in the Hanoverian half- 
century, though not as much as they were to change in the 
fifty years that were still in futurity. Extravagance of 
attire still persisted, though. the extravagance had changed 
its expression. The gigantic hoops in which ladies had de- 
lighted had diminished, had dwindled, and gowns were of 
a slender seemliness. But reformed below, fantasy rioted 
above. The headdresses of women in the early days of the 
third George were as monstrous, as horrible, and as shape- 
less in their way as the hideous hoops had been in theirs. 
Vast pyramids of false hair were piled on the heads of 
fashionable ladies, were pasted together with pomatums, 


were smothered in powder and pricked with feathers like 
the headgear of a savage. These odious erections took 
so long to build up that they were suffered to remain in 
their ugly entirety not for days but for weeks together, 
until the vast structure became a decomposing mass. It 
is rather ghastly to remember that youth and beauty and 
grace allowed itself to be so loathsomely adorned, that 
the radiant women whose faces smile from the canvases 
of great painters, and whose names illuminate the chroni- 
cles of the wasted time of the reign of George the Third, 
were condemned to dwell with corruption in consenting 
to be caricatured. Till far on in the lifetime of Queen 
Charlotte the fashion in women's wear oscillated from one 
extreme to another, the gracious of to-day becoming the 
grotesque of yesterday, and mode succeeding mode with the 
confusion and fascination of a masquerade. 

The men were no less remarkable than the women for 
the clothes they wore, no less capricious in their changes. 
A decided, if not a conspicuous, turn of public taste had 
done much since the accession of the first George to mini- 
mize if not to obliterate the differences between class and 
class. Men no longer consented readily to carry the badge 
of their calling in their daily costume, and the great world 
came gradually to be no longer divided sharply from the 
little world by marked distinction of dress. But still, 
and for long after 1760, the clothes of men were scarcely 
less brilliant, scarcely less importunate in their demands 
unon the attention of their wearers, than the clothes of 
women. Men made a brave show in those days. A group 
of men might be as strong in color and as vivid in contrast 
as a group of women; the neutralization of tone, the degra- 
dation of hue, did not begin till much later, and only con- 
quered in the cataclysm of the birth-throes of two repub- 
lics. Blue and scarlet, green and yellow, crimson and 
})urple, orange and plum-color were the daily wear of the 
well-to-do; and even for the less wealthy there were the 
warm browns and murreys, the bottle-greens and clarets, 
and lavenders and buffs which made any crowd a thing to 
please a painter in the eighteenth century. In all the 


varying breeds of beaux and macaronis and dandies, of 
bucks and fribbles, into which the fine gentlemen of the age 
allowed themselves to be classified, the one dominant feat- 
ure, the one common characteristic, was the love for gold 
and silver and fine laces, for gaudiness of color and rich- 
ness of ornament, for every kind of exquisite extravagance, 
every refinement in foppishness. There was a passion for 
the punctilio of dress, for the grace of a gold-headed cane 
and a chased sword-hilt, for the right ribbon, the right 
jewel, the right flower, and the right perfume, for the 
right powder in the hair and the right seals on the fob 
and the right heels and buckles on the shoes. There was 
an ardent appreciation, an uncompromising worship of the 
fine feathers that make fine birds. 

The social system of the polite world had been slowly 
changing with the successive Georges. The familiar events 
in the lives of the well-to-do classes were growing steadily 
later. The dinner hour, which was generally at noon or 
one in the reign of Queen Anne, had crept on to three 
o'clock under the first, and to four o'clock under the 
second George. Under the third it was to grow later and 
later, until it made Horace Walpole rage as if the world 
were coming to an end because among fashionable folk 
it had settled itself at six o'clock. In the country, indeed, 
for the most part people lived the quiet lives and kept the 
early hours of Sir Roger de Coverley. But, however, Lon- 
don lived, and whatever London chose to do, England's 
simple honest King and England's simple honest Queen 
would have no concern with the follies of fashion and the 
luxuries of late hours. However much the rashness and 
wrong-headedness of his public policy forced him to ac- 
cept the services and prime the pockets of a gang of 
drunkards and debauchees who called themselves and 
were called the King's friends, the evil communications 
had not the slightest influence upon the royal good man- 
ners, and did not alter by one jot the rigid frugality of 
George's life and that of his royal consort. The King's 
friends were only the King's jackals; they never were suf- 
fered for a moment to cross the line which severed the 


sovereign's private life from his public actions. Indeed, 
it may be assumed that few of the hard-drinking, hard- 
living, gambling, raking ruffians who battened on the 
King's bounty, and who voted white black and good bad 
with uncompromising pertinacity and unappeasable relish, 
would have welcomed the hard seats at the royal table, 
the meagre fare on the royal platters, the homely countri- 
fied air the royal couple breathed, and the homely countri- 
fied hour at which the royal couple took up their candles 
and went to bed. George the Third would be long asleep 
at an hour when his friends would be thinking of paying 
a visit to Ranelagh, or preparing to spend a pleasant even- 
ing over their cards, their dice-box, and their wine. 

Especially their wine. The one great characteristic of 
the gentility of the day was its capacity for drinking wine. 
" Wine, dear child, and truth," says a Greek poet, naming 
the two most admirable gifts of life. Truth was not always 
very highly prized by the men who set manners and made 
history in the second half of the eighteenth century, but 
to wine they clung with an absolutely unswerving and un- 
alterable attachment. If the great Oriental scholar who 
adorned the age had been more fortunate in his studies, if 
Sir William Jones had chanced to make acquaintance with 
a Persian poet who has since become very famous among 
Englishmen, he would have found in the quatrains of 
Omar Khayyam the very verses to please the minds and 
to interpret the desires of the majority of the statesmen, 
soldiers, divines, lawyers, and fine gentlemen of the day. 
It is as impossible to imagine the men of the eighteenth 
centurv without their incessant libations of wine as it is 
impossible to imagine what the eighteenth century would 
have been like if it had been for the most part abstemious, 
sober, or even reasonably temperate. As we read the me- 
moirs of the day, and if we believe only a part of what 
they tell us, making the most liberal allowance for the 
exaggeration of the wit and the satire of the cynic, we have 
to picture the political and social life of the time as a 
drunken orgy. Undoubtedly there were then, as always, 
men of decent behavior and discreet life, men who would 


no more have exceeded in wine than in any other way. 
But the temper of the age and the tone of the fashionable 
world was not in tune with their austerity. Wonder at the 
frequency with which men of position got drunk then is 
only rivalled by wonder at the amount which they could 
drink without getting drunk. 

The cry of the Persian nightingale to the Persian rose, 
" wine, wine, wine," was the cry to which hearts responded 
most readily in all the Georgian era. Walpole the father 
made Walpole the son drink too much, that he might not 
be unfilially sober while his father was unpaternally drunk. 
A generation later the younger Pitt plied himself with 
port as a medicine for the gout. The statesmen of the 
period, in the words of Sir George Trevelyan, sailed on a 
sea of claret from one comfortable official haven to an- 
other. The amount of liquor consumed by each man at a 
convivial gathering was Gargantuan, prodigious, hardly to 
be credited. Thackeray tells, in some recently published 
notes for his lectures on the four Georges, of a Scotch 
judge who was forced to drink water for two months, and 
being asked what was the effect of the regime, owned that he 
saw the world really as it was for the first time for twenty 
years; For a quarter of a century he had never been quite 
sober. This man might be taken as a type of the bons 
vivants, the huveurs tres illustres of the eighteenth cen- 
tury. They were never quite sober all through their lives. 
They never saw the world as it really was. They pleaded, 
preached, debated, fought, gambled, loved, and hated 
under the influence of their favorite vintage, saw all things 
through a vinous fume, and judged all things with in- 
flamed pulses and a reeling brain. But it must not be 
forgotten that the population of the country was not en- 
tirely composed of corrupt, hard-drinking politicians, prof- 
ligate, hard-drinking noblemen, and furious, hard-drink- 
ing country gentlemen. If these were, in a sense, the 
more conspicuous types, there were other types very dif- 
ferent and very admirable. Apart from the great mass 
of the people, living their dull daily lives, doing their 
dull daily tasks, quiet, ignorant, unconscious that they 


could or should ever have any say in the disposition of 
their existences, there were both in town and country 
plenty of decent, sober, honorable, and upright men and 
women who had nothing in common with the fine gentle- 
men and the fine ladies who fill the historical fashion 
plates. If, unfortunately, Squire Western and Parson 
Truliber were true pictures, at least Parson Adam and Sir 
Eoger de Coverley still held good. None the less a young, 
self-willed King, not too intelligent and not too well edu- 
cated, could scarcely have come to his sovereignty at a 
time less like to be fruitful of good for him or for the 
country that he was resolved to govern. 




The King was not lucky in his first act of sovereignty. 
In his speech at the opening of Parliament on Novemljcr 
18, 1760, he used a form of words which lie. and some of 
those who advised him, evidently believed to be eminently 
calculated to advance his popularity. " Born and edu- 
cated in this country, I glory in the name of Briton," the 
King said; and the words would seem to suggest such an 
intimacy of association between the King and the kingdom 
as must needs knit the hearts of ruler and of ruled more 
closely together. Yet the choice of words gave offence in 
certain quarters, and for two quite distinct reasons. Many 
of the adherents and admirers of the late King — for even 
George the Second had his admirers — were indignant at the 
contrast which the new King seemed deliberately to draw 
between himself and his grandfather. In accentuating the 
fact that he was born and bred in England, George the 
Third appeared by imputation to be casting a slur upon the 
German nature and German prejudices of George the Sec- 
ond. This boast, however much it might offend the feelings 
of the friends of the late King, was not at all calculated to 
affect the mass of the public, who had little love for George 
the Second, and whose affection for the new King was 
based mainly on the hope and the assumption that he 
would prove to be as unlike the old King as possible. But 
there was another interpretation to be put upon the royal 
words which was likely to cause a wider impression and a 
wider hostility. It would seem that some of the King's 
advisers wished him to write that he gloried in the name of 
Englishman; it would even seem that the King had actu- 
ally used this word in the written draft of his speech. 


Lord Bute, it was said, had struck out the word " English- 
man/' and had induced the King to accept the word 
" Briton ^' as a substitute. The difference would not be 
quite without moment now: it appeared very momentous 
to many then, who read in the word chosen a most con- 
vincing proof of the Scotch influence behind the throne. 
The King's pride in styling himself a Briton was taken to 
be, what indeed it was, evidence of his affection for the 
Scotch peer who had been so lately sworn into his Privy 
Council ; and the alarm and indignation of all who resent- 
ed the Scotch influence was very great. The Duke of New- 
castle in especial was irritated by the use of the word 
" Briton," and the evidence it forced upon him of his own 
waning influence and the waxing power of Bute. He even 
went so far as to wish that some notice should be taken of 
the " royal words " both in the motion and the address ; 
but in the end he and those who thought with him felt 
that they must submit and stifle their anger for the 
time, and so the King, unchallenged, proclaimed himself a 

Whatever else George had learned in the days of his 
tutelage, he had learned to form an ideal of what a king 
should be and a determination to realize that ideal in his 
own rule. The old idea of the personal authority of the 
sovereign seemed to be passing away, to be dropping out 
of the whole scheme and S3'stem of the English Constitu- 
tion along with the belief in the theory of the Divine right 
of kings. The new King, however, was resolved to prove 
that he was the head of the state in fact as well as in name ; 
that with his own hands he would restore to himself the 
power and authority which his grandfather and his great- 
grandfather had allowed unwisely to slip through their 
fingers. The difficulties in the way of such an enterprise 
might very well have disheartened any being less head- 
strong, any spirit less stubborn. There were forces opposed 
to him that seemed to overmatch his puny purpose as much 
as the giants overmatched the pigmy hero of the nursery 
tale. St. George in the chivalrous legend had but one 
dragon to destroy; the young royal St. George set himself 


with a light heart to attack a whole brood of dragons — 
the dragons of the great Whig party. 

When George the Third came to the throne the govern- 
ment of the country was entirely in the hands of the 
Whigs. The famous stately Whig Houses, the Houses of 
Cavendish, of Eussell, of Temple, of Bentinck, of Man- 
ners, of Fitzroy, of Lennox, of Conway, of Pelham, of 
Wentworth, were as little subservient to the sovereign as 
the great Frankish nobles who stood about the throne of 
the Do-nothing kings. The Tory party was politically 
almost non-existent. No Tory filled any office, great or 
little, that was at the disposal of the Whigs, and the Whigs 
had retained their ascendency for well-nigh half a cen- 
tury. Jacobitism had been the ruin of the Tory cause. 
All Tories were not Jacobites, but, roughly speaking, all 
Jacobites were Tories, and there were still, even at the 
date of George's accession, stout-hearted, thick-headed Tory 
gentlemen who believed in or vaguely hoped for a pos- 
sible restoration of a Stuart prince. It is curious to find 
that, though the Whig. ranks stood fast in defence of the 
House of Hanover, had made that House, and owed their 
ascendency to their loyalty to that House, the latest 
Hanoverian sovereign not only disliked them, but dealt 
them blow after blow until he overthrew their rule. The 
Tories, who sighed for a Stuart prince over the water, 
suddenly found to their astonishment that they had a 
friend in the Hanoverian Guelph, whose name they hated, 
whose right to the throne they challenged, and whose 
authority they derided, when they dared not despise. 

It cannot be denied that the Whigs had often abused, 
and more than abused, the privileges which their long lease 
of power had given to them. All political parties ruled 
by corruption during the last century. The Whig was not 
more corrupt than the Tory, but it can hardly be main- 
tained that he was less corrupt. The great Whig Houses 
bought their way to power with resolute unscrupulousness. 
A majority in either House was simply a case of so much 
money down. The genius of Walpole had secured his own 
pre-eminence at the cost of the almost total degradation 


of the whole administrative system of the country. When 
George the Third came to the throne the Whigs were 
firmly established in a powerful league of bigotry and in 
tolerance, cemented by corruj^tion, by bribery, by purchase 
of the most uncompromising, of the basest kind. George 
the Third had fostered through youthful years of silence 
those strong ideas of his own about the importance of the 
kingly office which he was now to proclaim by his deeds. 
In the way of those strong ideas, in the way of the stead- 
fast determination to be King in fact as well as in name, 
stood the great Whig faction, flushed with its more than 
forty years' debauch of power, insolent in the sense of its 
own omnipotence. George was resolute to show that the 
claim to omnipotence was a sham, and, to do him justice, 
he succeeded in his resolve. 

At the head of the Whig party in the House of Lords 
was the Duke of Newcastle. At its head in the House of 
Commons was William Pitt. These two ministers seemed 
fixed and irremovable in their supreme authority. While 
Newcastle lavished the money of the state in that spacious 
system of bribery which welded the party into so formi- 
dable a mass, it was the proud privilege of Pitt to illumi- 
nate its policy by his splendid eloquence at home and by the 
splendor of his enterprises abroad. Both the ministers 
were an enormous expense to the country. Newcastle 
never counted the cost so long as there was a county mem- 
ber to be bought or a placeman to be satisfied. Pitt never 
counted the cost so long as he could add another trophy 
of victory to the walls of Westminster Abbey and inscribe 
another triumph on England's roll of battles. The sordid 
skill of Newcastle and the dazzling genius of Pitt seemed 
between them to make the Whig party invulnerable and 
irresistible. There was no opposition in Upper or Lower 
House; there had been for many years no hint of royal 
opposition. Everything promised a long continuance of 
the undisputed Whig sway when suddenly the secret de- 
termination of a young King and the secret instigations 
of a Scotch peer dissipated the stately fabric that had 
endured so long. 


The fixed purpose of Lord Bute was to get rid of Pitt. 
The fixed purpose of Lord Bute created the fixed purpose 
of the King, and the hours of Pitt's administration were 
numbered. After a season of rare glory, of resplendent 
triumph, Pitt found himself face to face with a formida- 
ble coalition of interests against him, a coalition of inter- 
ests none the less formidable because it was headed by a 
man for whose attainments, opinions, and ability Pitt must 
have felt, and scarcely concealed, the greatest contempt. 
Pitt had not made himself an object of personal affection 
to those with whom he was brought into immediate con- 
tact. In the time of his supremacy he had carried himself 
with a haughty arrogance, with an austere disdain which 
had set the smaller men about him raging in secret antag- 
onism. The King, driven on by his own dreams of per- 
sonal authority, disliked the great minister. Bute, drunk 
with the wild ambitions of a weak man, seems to have 
believed that in succeeding to Pitt's place he could also 
succeed to Pitt's genius. Pitt soon became aware of the 
strength of the cabal against him. While some of his col- 
leagues were disaffected, others were almost openly treach- 
erous. Bute's manner waxed more arrogant in Council. 
The King's demeanor grew daily cooler. The great ques- 
tion of war or peace was the question that divided the Cabi- 
net. On a question of war or peace Bute triumphed and 
Pitt fell. 

Pitt was all for carrying on the war, which had thus 
far proved so successful for the British flag. But Pitt was 
not powerfully supported in his belief. If he had his 
brothers-in-law James Grenville and Lord Temple on his 
side, he had ranged against him a powerful opposition 
formed by Henry Fox and George Grenville, by Lord 
Hardwicke and the Duke of Bedford. On the side of the 
peace party Bute ranged himself, bringing with him all 
the enormous weight that his influence with the King gave 
him. The case of the peace party was a simple, straight- 
forward case. Why, they asked, should we continue to 
fight ? Our sweet enemy France is on her knees and ready 
to accept our terms. Let us enforce those terms and make 

1761. PITT'S PROBITY. 27 

a triumphant peace instead of further bleeding our ex- 
hausted treasury in the prosecution of a war from which 
we have now nothing more to gain. Chance gave the peace 
party their opportunity. Pitt had become cognizant of 
the treaty between France and Spain known as the " Fam- 
ily Compact/' the secret treaty which we have already 
fully described, by which the two Bourbon princes agreed 
to make common cause against England. Pitt straight- 
way proposed that the hostile purposes of Spain should 
be anticipated by an immediate declaration of war against 
Spain and the immediate despatch of a fleet to Cadiz. Bute 
promptly opposed the proposal in the Cabinet, and carried 
the majority of the Council with him in his opposition. 
Pitt instantly resigned. 

A curious thing had happened at the coronation cere- 
mony. One of the largest jewels in the royal crown got 
loose and fell from its place. This was looked upon at the 
time by superstitious people as a sinister omen. These 
now saw the fulfilment of their forebodings in the loss to 
the state of the services of the great minister. The King 
himself had no sense that his regal glory was dimmed in 
its lustre by the resignation of Pitt. He was so delighted 
at having got rid thus easily of the great obstacle to his 
own authority that he could readily consent to lend to the 
act of parting a gracious air of regret. Much was done to 
lighten Pitf s fall. Very liberal offers were made by the 
King, offers which seemed to many to mask a hope, and 
more than a hope, of undermining the popularity of the 
great leader. Pitt declined several offers that were per- 
sonal to himself, but expressed his readiness to accept some 
signs of the royal favor on behalf of his wife and his 
family. A barony was conferred upon Pitt's wife and a 
pension of three thousand a year upon Pitt for three lives. 
There was nothing unworthy in Pitt's action. He was 
notoriously poor ; he was no less notoriously honest ; it was 
perfectly certain that, in an age when a successful poli- 
tician was for the most part a peculator, no shilling of 
public money had ever stuck to Pitt's fingers. If he was 
instantly attacked by libels and pamphlets that were prob- 


ably paid for by Bute, or that at least were inspired by 
a desire to please Bute, the attacks did Pitt more good 
than harm. They produced a prompt reaction, and only 
had the effect of making Pitt more dear to the people than 
before. His pictures had an enormous sale, and his par- 
tisans on the press poured out caricatures and lampoons 
upon Bute and his Scotchmen in greater volume and with 
greater violence than ever. 

Bute was not content with the overthrow of Pitt. He 
wished to stand in isolated splendor, and to accomplish 
this Newcastle too must go. The great briber of yesterday 
had to give way to the great briber of to-day, and Bute 
stood alone before the world, the head of the King's Min- 
istry, the favorite of the King, the champion of a policy 
that promised peace abroad and purity at home, and that 
resulted in a renewal of war under conditions of peculiar 
disadvantage and a renewed employment of the basest 
forms of political corruption. Bute had gained the power 
he longed for, but Bute was soon to learn that power need 
not and did not mean popularity. " The new Administra- 
tion begins tempestuously," Walpole wrote on June 20, 
1762. " My father was not more abused after twenty 
years than Lord Bute is after twenty days. Weekly papers 
swarm, and, like other swarms of insects, sting." Bute 
affected an indifference to this unpopularity which he did 
not really feel. It is not flattering to a statesman's pride 
to be unable to go abroad without being hissed and pelted 
by the mob, and it is hard for a minister to convince him- 
self of the admiration of a nation when a strong body- 
guard is necessary to secure him from the constant danger 
of personal attacks. Bute's character did not refine under 
the tests imposed upon it. His objectionable qualities 
grew more and more unpopular. The less he was liked 
the less he deserved to be liked. Adversity did not magnify 
that small soul. In his mean anger he sought for mean 
revenge. Every person who owed an appointment to the 
former ministry felt the weight of the favorite's wrath. 
Dismissal from office was the order of the day, and Whig 
after Whig was forced to leave his place or office open for 


some Tory who was ready to express an enthusiasm for 
the statesmanship of Bute. 

Bute's idea of a foreign policy was to reverse the policy 
of Pitt. He abandoned Frederick of Prussia to his 
enemies by cutting off the subsidy which Pitt had paid 
him, on the ground that the time agreed on for the subsidy 
was up, and that as England only granted it for her own 
purposes, and not to benefit Frederick, she was justified in 
discontinuino: it whenever it suited her. Onlv a chance 
saved the Great Frederick from what seemed like inevi- 
table ruin. The Czarina, Elizabeth of Russia, died, and 
was succeeded by Peter the Third. With the change of 
sovereign came a change in the purposes of Russia. The 
Russian army, which had fought with Austria against 
Frederick, now received orders to fight with Frederick 
against Austria. The war with Spain that Pitt had pre- 
dicted Bute was obliged to wage. The conduct of Spain 
made it impossible for him not to declare war, and, aided 
by Pitt's preparations, he was able to carry on the war 
with considerable success. But the credit for such success 
was generally given to Pitt, and when Bute made peace 
Avith Spain and France it was generally felt that the terms 
were not such as Pitt Avould have exacted after so long and 
splendid a succession of victories. There was, indeed, a 
good deal to be said for the peace, but at the time those who 
tried to say it did not get a very patient hearing. It was 
well that the Ions: Continental war was ended. Few of 
those engaged in it had gained much by it. Prussia, in- 
deed, though it left her wellnigh bankrupt and almost 
ruined by the enormous burdens she had sustained, was 
better in position. She came out of the struggle without 
the loss of a sino^le acre of territorv, and with what Fred- 
erick especially coveted, the rank of a first-rate Power in 
Europe. If Prussia, which had been so long England's 
ally, had gained, England had not lost. Undoubtedly 
Pitt's war was popular; no less undoubtedly Bute's peace 
was unpopular, and the unpopularity of the policy intensi- 
fied the unpopularity of the minister. In the eyes of the 
bulk of the English people Lord Bute, as a Scotchman, was 


a foreigner, as much a foreigner as if he hailed from 
France or the Low Countries. Lord Chesterfield was 
finely disdainful of the popular opposition to Bute on 
account of his nationality. " If the vulgar are ever right," 
he said, " Ihey are right for the wrong reason. What they 
selected to attack in Lord Bute was his being a Scotchman, 
which was precisely what he could not help." But it was 
not Bute's nationality, so much as his flagrant partiality 
to his fellow-countrymen, that made him unpopular. His 
affection for his own countrymen, however admirable and 
even touching in itself, was resented fiercely by the Eng- 
lish people, who found themselves threatened by a new 
invasion of the Picts and Scots. Across the Border came 
a steady stream of Bute's henchmen, men with names that 
seemed outlandish and even savage to the Londoner, and 
every Scotchman found, or hoped to find, through the in- 
fluence of Bute his way to office and emolument. The 
growing hatred for Bute extended itself as rapidly as un- 
justly to the nation from which Bute came. 

The story of Bute's Ministry is a story of astonishing 
mistakes. The Tories, who for five-and-f orty years had in- 
veighed against the political corruption which, fostered by 
Walpole, seemed to have culminated under Newcastle, now 
boldly went in for a system of flagrant bribery which sur- 
passed anything yet essa3'ed by the most cynical of Whig 
ministers. The Paymaster's Office became a regular mart 
where parliamentary votes were bought and sold as un- 
blushingly as humbler folk bought and sold groceries 
across a counter. A Ministry weakened by an unpopular 
peace, and only held together by such cynical merchan- 
dise, was not likely to withstand a strong storm, and the 
storm w^as not long in rising. 

To swell the exchequer, the Ministry proposed to raise 
revenue by a tax on cider and perry. It was resolved to 
levy an imposition of four shillings per hogshead on the 
grower of the apple wine and the pear wine. The cider 
counties raised a clamor of indignation that found a ready 
echo in London. Pitt, Beckford, Lyttelton, Hardwicke, 
Temple, all spoke against the proposed measure and 


denounced its injustice. George Grenville defended the 

Grenville was one of those honorable and upright states- 
men who do not contrive to make either honor or rectitude 
seem lovable qualities. He had first made himself con- 
spicuous as one of the Boy Patriots who rallied with Pitt 
against Walpole. His abilities ran with swiftness along 
few and narrow channels. He was desperately well in- 
formed about many things, and desperately in earnest 
about anything which he undertook. Blessed or cursed 
with a solemnity that never was enlivened by a gleam of 
humor, a ray of fancy, or a ilash of eloquence, Grenville 
regarded the House of Commons with the cold ferocity 
of a tyrannical and pompous schoolmaster. A style of 
speech that would have made a discourse upon Greek 
poetry seem arid and a dissertation upon Italian painting 
colorless — if it were possible to conceive Grenville as wast- 
ing time or thought on such trifles — added no grace to the 
exposition of a fiscal measure or charm to the formality 
of a phalanx of figures. He was gloomy, dogged, domi- 
neering, and small-minded. His nearest approach to a 
high passion was his worship of economy; his nearest ap- 
proach to a splendid virtue was his stubborn independence. 
He abandoned Pitt for Bute because he detested Pitt's 
prodigal policy, but Bute was the more deceived if he 
fancied that he was to find in Grenville the convenient 
mask that he had lost in ISTewcastle ; and the King himself 
had yet to learn how indifferent the dry, morose pedant 
and preacher could be not merely to royal favor, but even 
to the expression of royal opinion. It was truly said of 
him by the greatest of his contemporaries that he seemed 
to have no delight out of the House except in such things 
as in some way related to the business that was to be done 
within it. The " undissipated and unwearied application " 
which he devoted to everything that he undertook was 
now employed in exasperating the country. The time 
was not yet ripe for it to be employed in dismembering the 

In his support of Uie cider tax Grenville managed to 


make it and himself ridiculous at the same time. In his 
defence he kept asking, over and over again, "Where will 
you find another tax? tell me where." Pitt, who was lis- 
tening disdainfully to his arguments, followed one of these 
persistent interrogations by softly singing to himself, very 
audibly, the words which belonged to a popular song, 
"Gentle shepherd, tell me where." The House took the 
hint with delight, and the title of Gentle Shepherd re- 
mained an ironical adornment of Grenville for the rest, 
of his life. 

Bute's disregard of public opinion was contrasted to his 
disadvantage with the conduct of Sir Eobert Walpole, who 
bowed to the demonstration against his far wiser system 
of excise. Bute forced his tax forward in defiance of the 
popular feeling, and then, apparently alarmed by the 
strength of the spirit he had himself raised, he answered 
the general indignation by a sudden and welcome resigna- 
tion on April 8, 1763. This was the end of Bute's attempt 
to be the recognized head of a government, though he still 
hoped and believed that he could rule from behind the 
throne instead of standing conspicuously at its side. To 
his unpopularity as a foreigner, to his unpopularity as a 
favorite, public hostility added a fresh, if a far-fetched 
and fantastic reason for detesting Bute. It was pointed 
out that he had Stuart blood in his veins, that an ancestor 
of his had been the brother of a Scottish King. Any stick 
is good enough to strike an unpopular statesman with, and 
there were not wanting people to assert, and perhaps even 
to believe, that Bute had entertained insidious schemes for 
raising himself to the throne. Bute is said to have de- 
clared that he resigned in order to avoid involving the 
King in the dangers with which his minister was threat- 
ened. If he did feel any fears for the King's safety he 
had certainly done his best to make those fears reasonable. 
It has not often been given to any statesman to hold the 
highest office in the state for so short a time, and in that 
time to accomplish so large an amount of harm. And the 
immediate harm of that year and a half was little as com- 
pared with the harm that was to follow, a fatal legacy, 


from the principles that Bute advocated and the policy 
that Bute initiated. 

With Bute retired two of his followers, Dashwood and 
Fox. Dashwood went to the Upper House as Lord Le De- 
spencer; Fox accompanied him as Lord Holland. The 
disappearance of Dashwood from the Commons was a mat- 
ter of little importance. The disappearance of Fox marked 
the conclusion of what had been a remarkable, of what 
might have been a great career. From this time Fox 
ceased to take any real part in public business, and if his 
presence lent no lustre to the Lords, his absence made the 
character of the Commons more honorable. Fox, with 
all his faults, and they were many and grave, had in him 
the gifts of the politician and the capacity of the states- 
man. Dashwood was a vulgar fool, who, as Horace Wal- 
pole said, with the familiarity and phrase of a fishwife, 
introduced the humors of Wapping behind the veil of 
the Treasury. But Fox was a very different type of man. 
Had he been as keen for his own honor as he was eager 
in the acquisition of money, had he been as successful in 
building up a record of great deeds as he was successful 
in building up an enormous fortune, he might have left 
behind him one of the greatest names in the history of his 
age. But he carried with him to the Upper House the 
rare abilities which he had put to such unworthy uses, 
and he lives in memory chiefly as the father of his son. 
In having such a son he rendered the world a good service, 
which he himself labored with infinite pains to make into 
an evil service. 

A young, inexperienced, and headstrong King found 
himself suddenly the central figure of perhaps as singular 
a set of men as ever were gathered together for the purpose 
of directing the destinies of a nation. A famous caricature 
of the period represents the front of a marionette-show, 
through an aperture of which the hand of Bute pulls the 
wires that make the political puppets work, while Bute 
himself peeps round the corner of the show to observe 
their antics. No stranger dolls ever danced around a 
royal figure to the manipulation of a favorite's fingers. At 

VOL. III. — 2 


a time when political parties as the}^ are now familiar to 
us did not exist, when Whiggism was so dominant that 
Opposition in the modern sense was unknown, when the 
pleasures and the gains of administration were almost 
entirely reserved for a privileged caste, and when self-in- 
terest was the rarely disavowed spur of all individual 
action, it is scarcely surprising to find that the vast ma- 
jority of the statesmen of the day were as unadmirable in 
their private as they were unheroic in their public life. 
For then and long after, the political atmosphere, bad at 
its best, was infamous at its worst, and by an unhappy 
chance the disposition of the King led him to favor in 
their public life the very men whose private life would 
have filled him with loathing, and to detest, where it was 
impossible to despise, the men who came to the service of 
their country with characters that were clean from a pri- 
vacy that was honorable. Many, if not most, of the lead- 
ing figures of that hour would have been more appropri- 
ately situated as the members of a brotherhood of thieves 
and the parasites of a brothel than as the holders of high 
office and the caretakers of a royal conscience. There were 
men upon the highway, rogues with a bit of crape across 
their foreheads and a pair of pistols in their holsters, 
haunting the Portsmouth Eoad or Hounslow Heath, with 
the words " Stand and deliver " ever ready on their lips, 
who seem relatively to be men of honor and probity com- 
pared with a man like the first Lord Holland or like Eigby. 
There were poor slaves of the stews, wretched servants of 
the bagnios, whose lives seem sweet and decorous when 
compared with those of a Sandwich or a Dash wood or a 
Duke of Grafton. Yet these men, whose companionship 
might be rejected by Jack Sheppard, and whose example 
might be avoided by Pompey Bum, are the men whose 
names are ceaselessly prominent in the early story of the 
reign, and to whose power and influence much of its ca- 
lamities are directly due. 

It is not easy to accord a primacy of dishonor to any one 
of the many statesm.en whose names degrade the age. Pos- 
sibly the laurels of shame, possibly the palms of infamy 


may be proffered to Augustus Henry Fitzroy, third 
Buke of Grafton. When George the Third came to the 
throne the Duke of Grafton was only twenty-five years old, 
and had been three years in the House of Lords, after hav- 
ing passed about twice as many months in the House of 
Commons. Destined to live for more than half a century 
after the accession, and to die while the sovereign had still 
many melancholy years to live, the Duke of Grafton en- 
jo3^ed a long career, that was unadorned by either public 
or private virtue. There is no need to judge Grafton on 
the indictment of the satirist who in a later day made the 
name of Junius more terrible to the advisers of King 
George than ever was the name of Pietro Aretino to the 
princes whom he scourged. The coldest chronicle of the 
Duke's careers, the baldest narrative of his life, proves him 
to have been no less dangerous to the public weal as a 
statesman than he was noxious to human societv as an 
individual. He had not even the redeeming grace that 
the charm of beauty of person lent to some of his com- 
panions in public incompetency and private profligacy. 
His face and presence were as unattractive as his manners 
were stiff and repellent. His grandfather, the first Duke, 
was an illegitimate son of Charles the Second by the 
Duchess of Cleveland, and the Duke's severest critic de- 
clared that he blended the characteristics of the two 
Charles Stuarts. Sullen and severe without religion, 
and profligate without gayety, he lived like Charles the 
Second, without being an amiable companion, and might 
die as his father did, without the reputation of a martyr. 
Grafton did not die the death of his royal ancestor. He 
lived through seventy-six years, of which less than half 
were passed in the fierce light of a disgraceful notoriety, 
and more than half in a retirement which should be styled 
obscure rather than decent. The only conspicuously cred- 
itable act of that long career was the patronage he ex- 
tended to the poet Bloomfield, a patronage that seems to 
have been prompted rather by the fact that the writer was 
born near Grafton's country residence than by any intelli- 
gent appreciation of literature. His curious want of taste 


and feeling allowed him to parade his mistress, Nanc}^ 
Parsons, in the presence of the Queen, at the Opera House, 
and to marry, when he married the second time, a first 
cousin of the man with whom his first wife had eloped, 
John, Earl of Upper Ossory. If his example as a father 
was not admirable, at least he showed it to a numerous 
offspring, for by his two marriages he was the parent of 
no fewer than sixteen children. 

Perhaps the prize for sheer political ruffianism, for the 
frank audacity of the freebooter, unshadowed by the darker 
vices of his better-born associates, may be awarded to 
Eigby. N"ot that Kigby redeemed by many private virtues 
the unblushing effrontery of his public career. It was 
given to few men to be as bad as Dashwood, and Rigby was 
not one of the few. But his gross and brutal disregard of 
all decency in his acts of public plunder — for even pecu- 
lation may be done with distinction — was accompanied by 
a gross and brutal disregard of all decency in his tastes 
and pleasures with his intimate associates. Eichard Eigby 
sprang from the trading class. He was the son of a linen- 
draper who was sufficiently lucky to make a fortune as 
a factor to the South Sea Company, and who was, in con- 
sequence, able to afford his son the opportunity of a good 
education, and to launch him on the grand tour of Europe 
with every aptitude for the costly vices that men in those 
daj^s seemed to think it the chief object of travel to cul- 
tivate, and with plenty of money in his pocket to gratify 
all his inclinations. Eigby did not take much advantage 
of his educational opportunities. His Latinity laid him 
open to derision in the House of Commons, and there were 
times when his spelling would have reflected little credit 
upon a seamstress. But he was quite capable of learning 
abroad all the evil that the great school of evil was able 
to teach a willing student. He returned to England, and 
began his life there with three pronounced tastes: for 
gambling, for wiue, and for the baser uses of politics. His 
ambitions prompted him to adhere to the party of the 
Prince of Wales, and his ready purse won him a welcome 
among the courtiers of Leicester House. The Prince of 


Wales did little to gratify his hopes, and Rigby would have 
found it difficult to escape from the straits into which his 
debts had carried him if his gift of pleasing had not pro- 
cured for him a powerful patron. The Duke of Bedford 
had been attracted by the remarkable convivial powers of 
Eigby, powers remarkable in an age when to be conspicu- 
ous for conviviality demanded very unusual capacity both 
of head and of stomach. To be admired by Bedford was 
in itself a patent of dishonor, but it was a profitable patent 
to Eigby. The Duke, who was accused at times of a shame- 
ful parsimony, Avas generous to profusion towards the 
bloated buffoon who was able and willing to divert him, 
and from that hour Eigby's pockets never wanted their 
supply of public money. 

There were few redeeming features in Eigby's char- 
acter. It was his peculiar privilege to be false to his old 
friends and to corrupt his young ones. In an age when 
sobriety was scorned or ignored he had the honor to be 
famous for his insobriety. A sycophant to those who could 
serve him and a bully to those who could not, Eigby added 
the meanness of the social parvenu to the malignity of 
the political bravo. At a time when men of birth and rank 
came to the House of Commons in the negligence of morn- 
ing dress, Eigby was conspicuous for the splendor of his 
attire, and illuminated the green benches by a costume 
whose glow of color only fainth^ attenuated the glowing 
color of his face. There were baser and darker spirits ready 
for the service of the King; there was no one more un- 

Eigby's patron was as unadmirable as Eigby himself. 
He was fifty years old when George the Third came to the 
throne, and he had lived his half a century in the occu- 
pation of many offices and through many opportunities for 
distinction without distinguishing himself. He had still 
eleven years to live without adding anything of honor or 
credit to his name, or earning any other reputation than 
that of a corrupt politician whose private life was passed 
chiefly in the society of gamblers, jockeys, and buffoons. 
He had been Governor-General of Ireland, and had gov- 


erned it as well as Verres had governed Sicily. He had 
been publicly horsewhipped by a county attorney on the 
racecourse at Lichfield. His career, always unimportant, 
was ignominious when it was not incapable, and it was 
generally both the one and the other. 

All the statesmen of the day were not of the school of 
Grafton. There were numerous exceptions to the rule of 
Eigby. The Graftons and the Rigbys gain an unnatural 
prominence from the fact that then and later it was to 
such tools the King turned, and that he always found such 
tools ready to his hands. There were many men who, with- 
out any show of austerity or any burden of morality, were 
at least of a very different order from the creatures whom 
the King did not indeed delight to honor, but whom he 
condescended to emi)loy. The Earl of Granville, with the 
weight of seventy years upon his shoulders, carried into 
active political life under his fourth sovereign the same 
qualities both for good and evil that adorned or injured 
the name of Carteret. He accepted Lord Bute's authority, 
and he did not live long enough to witness Bute's fall. He 
accorded to the peace brought about by Bute " the appro- 
bation of a dying statesman," as the most honorable peace 
the country had ever seen. He died in the January of 
1763, leaving behind him the memory of a long life which 
had always been lived to his own advantage but by no 
means to the disadvantage of his country. He left behind 
him a memory of rare public eloquence and graceful pri- 
vate conversation, of an elegant scholarship that prompted 
him to the patronage of scholars, of a profound belief in 
his own judgment, and a no less profound contempt for 
the opinions of others. His public life was honest in an 
epoch when public dishonesty was habitual, and the best 
thing to be said of him was the best thing he said of him- 
self, that when he governed Ireland he governed so as to 
please Dean Swift. 

At a time when the King was surrounded by such ad- 
visers as we have seen, the King's chief servant and most 
loyal subject was a man no longer young, who had nothing 
to do with the courts or councils, and who yet was of 


greater service to the throne and its occupier than all the 
House of Lords and half the House of Commons. Long 
years before George the Third was born, a struggling, un- 
successful schoolmaster gave up a school that was well-nigh 
given up by its scholars and came to London to push his 
fortune as a man of letters. When George the Third came 
to the throne the schoolmaster had not found fortune — 
that he never found — but he had found fame, and the 
name of Samuel Johnson was known and loved wherever 
an English word was spoken or an English book read. The 
conditions of political life in England in the eighteenth 
centur}^ made it impossible for such a man as Samuel 
Johnson ever to be the chosen counsellor, the minister of an 
English king. The field of active politics was reserved 
for men of family, of wealth, or of the few whom powerful 
patronage served in lieu of birth and aided to the necessary 
opulence. Johnson was one of the most influential writers 
of his day, one of the strongest intellectual forces then at 
work, one of the greatest personalities then alive. But it 
would no more have occurred to him to dream of adminis- 
trative honors and a place in a Ministry than it would have 
occurred to George the Third to send one of his equerries 
to the dingy lodgings of an author with the request that 
Dr. Johnson would step round to St. James's Palace and 
favor his Majesty with his opinion on this subject or on 
that. It is not certain that the King would have gained 
very much if he had done anything so unusual. Dr. John- 
son's views were very much the King's views, and we know 
that he would have been as obstinate as the King in many 
if not most of the cases in which the King's obstinacy was 
very fatal to himself. 

When Queen Anne was still upon the throne of England, 
when James the Second still lived with a son who dreamed 
of being James the Third, and when George the First was 
only Elector of Hanover, people still attributed to the sov- 
ereign certain gifts denied to subjects. They believed, for 
instance, that the touch of the royal fingers could cure 
the malady of scrofula, then widely known in consequence 
of that belief as the King's Evil. In obedience to that be- 


lief, in the spring of 1712 some poor folk of Lichfield 
travelled to London with their infant son, in the hope that 
Queen Anne would lay her hand upon the child and make 
him whole. There were da3^s appointed for the ceremony 
of the touch, and on one of those days the Johnsons of 
Lichfield carried their little Samuel into the royal pres- 
ence, and Queen Anne stroked the child with her hand. 
For more than seventy years a dim memory remained with 
Johnson of a stately lady in black; for more than seventy 
years the malady that her touch was thought to heal haunt- 
ed him. When the man who had been the sick child died, 
the third prince of a foreign house was seated on the 
throne of England, and the third of the line owed, uncon- 
scious of the debt, no little of his security on his throne 
and no little of his popularity with the mass of his people 
to the struggling author who had received the benediction 
of the last Stuart sovereign of England. 

Samuel Johnson was born at Lichfield, in Staffordshire, 
on September 8, 1709. His father was a bookseller, perhaps 
too fond of books to be a good dealer in them. But his 
crowded shelves were a paradise to his son when at the 
age of sixteen he came home from the last of many school- 
ings, each of which had taught him much. For two years 
he read his way recklessly, riotously, and joyously through 
his father's migratory library. He took the advice of the 
varlet in "The Taming of the Shrew," and studied what 
he most affected. His memory was as vast as his head was 
huge and his body bulky. He read what he liked, and he 
stored his mind with as miscellaneous a mass of knowl- 
edge as ever was heaped up within the pent-house of one 
human skull. That youthful zeal and fiery heat of study 
remained youthful with him to the end of his many days; 
the passion for learning never burned low in that mighty 
brain. The man who in his old age studied Dutch to test 
the acquiring powers of his intellect, and still found them 
freshly tempered, acted in his ebullient boyhood as if, like 
Bacon, he had taken all knowledge to be his province. The 
man who in his old age found an exquisite entertainment 
in reading a Spanish romance of chivalry, in his eager 


boyhood found the Latin poems of Petrarch sweeter than 
apples. The great Italian who counted the sonnets to 
which he owes his immortality but as the clouds of a dream, 
and who built his hopes of fame upon that " Africa " 
which the world has been willing to forget, found the 
reader he would have welcomed and the student he would 
have cherished in the ungainly youth who pored over him 
in a garret. The boy Johnson, bent over the great folio, 
forgot that he was poor, forgot that he was ill-clad, under 
the spell of the stately lines that their poet believed to be 
not less than Virgilian. He had set out on an errand even 
more trivial than that of Saul the son of Kish, and he 
had found the illimitable kingdom of dreams. 

Chance sent the student of Petrarch to Pembroke Col- 
lege, Oxford, where he passed two years eating the bitter 
bread of poverty in the bitter pride of youth. He was 
hungry, he was ragged, he was conscious of his great 
knowledge and his great gifts, and he saw all around him 
men in high places whose attainments he despised, and 
men seeking the same goal as himself whose happy ease 
of circumstances he affected to disdain and was compelled 
to envy. His wild soul rose in rebellion at the inequalities 
of life. He passed for a mutineer. 

His college days were bitter and rebellious; days of 
hunger and thirst and ruined raiment. Some well-mean- 
ing person, moved to pity by the sight of Johnson's shabby 
shoes, patched and mended till they were past all whole- 
some cobbling, placed a new sound pair at Johnson's door 
in nameless benevolence. Johnson cast them from him 
with fury, too proud to be shod by another man's bounty. 
He drifted through his few and gloomy college days derid- 
ing and despising those in authority ; seemingly wasting his 
time and yet not wasting it ; translating Pope's " Mes- 
siah " into such noble Latin that Pope, moved by honest 
admiration, declared that future times would be unable 
to tell which was the original and which was the transla- 
tion. Johnson could be nowhere without learning, and he 
learned something at Oxford ; but in any case his stay was 
short, and he drifted back to Lichfield, leaving on the 


banks of the Isis an amazing memory of a sullen savage 
creature, brimmed with the strangest miscellaneous learn- 
ing. In Lichfield his father's death, following hard upon 
his return from Oxford, left him lonelier and poorer than 
ever, troubled by the grim necessity to be fed, clothed, and 
sheltered, and by the uncertainty how to set about it. He 
did set about it, earnestly, strenuouslv, if not very fruit- 
fully. " * 

He was ready to do anything, to turn to anything, to 
write, to translate, to teach. He fell in love with an 
amazing woman more than twenty years his senior, mon- 
strously fat, monstrously painted, monstrously affected and 
absurd; he fell in love with her, and he married her. She 
had a little money, and Johnson set up an academy for 
the instruction of youth. But youth would not come to 
be instructed. One youth came, one of the very few, a 
soldier's son and a grandson of a Huguenot refugee, named 
David Garrick. The master and the pupil became friends, 
and the friendship lasted with life. Master and pupil re- 
solved to make the adventure of the town together. The 
eyes of aspiring provincials turned always to the great 
city, every ambitious provincial heart beat with desire for 
the conquest of London. The priest of letters and the 
player of parts, the real man and the shadow of all men, 
packed up bag and baggage and came to London to very 
different fame and very different fortune. The great city 
had one kind of welcome to give to the man who desired 
to speak truth and another to the man who proposed to 
give pleasure. The chances for men of letters and for 
players were very unlike just then. The two strands of life 
ran across the web of London, the strand of Johnson iron- 
gray, the strand of Garrick gleaming gold. Through long 
years Johnson hid in dingy courts and alleys, ill-clothed, 
ill-fed, an uncouth Apollo in the service of Admetus Cave 
and his kind, while the marvellous actor was climbing 
daily higher and higher on the ladder of an actor's fame, 
the friend of the wealthy, the favored of the great, the 
admired, the applauded, the well-beloved. Garrick de- 
served his fame and his fortune, his splendid successes and 


his shining rewards; but the grand, rough writer of books 
did not deserve his buffets and mishaps, his ferocious 
hungers, his acquaintanceship with sponging-houses, and 
all the catalogue of his London agonies. His struggle 
for life was a Titan's struggle, and it was never either 
selfish or ignoble. He wanted to live and be heard because 
he knew that he had something to say that was worth 
hearing. He needed to live for the sake of his ardent 
squalid affections, for the sake of the people who were 
always dependent upon his meagre bounty, for the sake of 
the wife he loved so deeply, mourned so truly when she 
died, and remembered with such tender loyalty so long as 
life was left to him. Miserably poor himself, he always 
had about him people more miserable and more poor, who 
looked to him for the very bread and water of their afflic- 
tion, dependents whom he tended not merely generously, 
but, what was better still, cheerfully. Under conditions 
of existence that would have seemed crushing to men of 
letters with a tithe of Johnson's greatness of soul, John- 
son fought his way inch by inch in the terrible career of 
the man who lived by his pen, and by his pen alone. He 
wrote anything and everything so long as it was honorable 
to write and promised to make the world better. But it was 
not what Johnson wrote so much as what Johnson did 
that commanded his age and commands posterity. In the 
truest sense of the word, he lived beautifull)^ " Easselas " 
and " The Idler," " London " and " The Vanity of Human 
Wishes," " The Eambler " and the " Sessions of Lilliput," 
and the '' Lives of the Poets," and even the famous " Dic- 
tionary," only claim remembrance because they were done 
by a man who would be as interesting a study and as en- 
nobling an example if he had never written a line of the 
works that bear his signature in every sentence of their 
solemn, even their portentous majesty. Johnson had the 
kindest heart wrapped in a rugged hide. One of the 
noblest of the many noble stories about him relates how he 
and a friend, whose name of Burke was not then famous, 
found a poor woman of the streets houseless, hungry, and 
exhausted in the streets. Burke had a room which he could 


offer the poor creature for a night's shelter; but Burke 
could not get the woman there. Johnson had no room — 
his dependents swarmed over every available space at his 
command — but he had the strength of a giant, and he 
used it as a giant should, in carrying the poor wretch in 
his arms to the roof that Burke could offer her. Long 
years later, another man of letters, hungry, homeless, and 
friendless, sick almost unto death, found a kind friend 
and gentle nurse in a woman of the streets. In succoring 
De Quincey we may well think that Anne was repaying 
something of the debt owed by one of her unhappy class to 
two of the 2:lories of literature and of humanitv. 

Slowly and surely Johnson's fame spread. The " Dic- 
tionary," massive fruit of many vigils, reward of many 
supplications, made him illustrious. It might have been 
dedicated to Chesterfield, if Chesterfield had shown to the 
struggling author the courtesy he was eager to extend to 
the established writer. Chesterfield need not be blamed 
if he was reluctant to welcome a queer ungainly creature 
whose manners were appalling, and of whose genius no one 
save himself was assured. But he was to be blamed, and 
he deserved the stern punishment he received in Johnson's 
stiuging letter of repudiation, for attempting, when John- 
son was distinguished and beyond his power to help, to win 
the great honor of a dedication by a proffer of friendship 
that came too late. Johnson needed no Chesterfield now. 
London had learned to reverence him, had learned to love 
him. His friends were the best Englishmen alive ; the club 
which Johnson established bore on its roll the most illus- 
trious names in the country; at the home of the Thrales 
Johnson tasted and appreciated all that was best in the 
home life of the time. He had a devoted friend in the 
person of a fussy, fantastic, opinionated, conceited little 
Scotch gentleman, Mr. James Boswell of Auchinleck, who 
clung to his side, treasured his utterances, cherished his 
sayings, and made himself immortal in immortalizing his 
hero. It is good to remember that when George the Third 
came to the throne a man like Johnson was alive. It is 
not so good to remember how seldom he found himself 


face to face with the King, whom he might have aided 
with his wisdom, his counsel, and his friendship. 

Johnson's presence adorned and honored f our-and-twenty 
years of a reign that was to last for sixty years. He was 
the friend or the enemy of every man worthy to arouse 
any strong emotion of love or scorn in a strong spirit. He 
had the admiration of all whose admiration was worth the 
having. The central figure of the literary London of his 
lifetime, he exercised something of the same social and 
intellectual influence over all Londoners that Socrates 
exercised over all Athenians. The affection he inspired 
survived him, and widens with the generations. In the 
hundred years and more that have passed since Johnson's 
death, his memory has grown greener. The symbol of his 
life and of its lesson is to be found in what Hawthorne 
beautifully calls the sad and lovely legend of the man 
Johnson's public penance in the rain, amid the jeering 
crowd, to expiate the offence of the cliild against its father. 
Johnson was the very human apostle of a divine righteous- 




One of the most beautiful places on one of the most 
beautiful rivers in the world is Medmenham on the 
Thames, hard by Marlow. In the awakening of spring, 
in the tranquillity of summer, or the rich decline of 
August, the changing charm of the spot appeals with the 
special insistence that association lends to nature. ]\Ied- 
menham is a haunted place. Those green fields and 
smiling gardens have been the scenes of the strangest 
id3ds; those shining waters have mirrored the fairest of 
frail faces; those woods have echoed to the names of the 
light nymphs of town and the laughter of modish satyrs. 
It was once very lonely in its loveliness, a ground remote, 
where men could do and did do as they pleased unheeded 
and unobserved. Where now from April to October a 
thousand pleasure-boats pass by, where a thousand pleas- 
ure-seekers land and linger, a century and a half ago the 
spirit of solitude brooded, and those who came there came to 
a calm as unvexed and as enchanting as the calm of Aval- 
Ion. They made strange uses of their exquisite opportunity. 
They profaned the groves whose very winds breathed 
peace; they polluted the stream that a poet would have 
found sacred. The remains are there of a Cistercian abbe3^ 
the ruins of a ruin, twice fallen into disuse and decav. 
It was a ruin in the eighteenth century when a member of 
Parliament, who was also a baronet and a Chancellor of the 
Exchequer, took it into his evil head to repair it. Under 
the care of Sir Francis Dashwood it was restored for a 
new and altered life. The abbey rose again, and once 
asrain was associated with a brotherhood of monks. But 
where the quiet Cistercians had lived and prayed a new 

1763. JOHN WILKES. 47 

brotherhood of St. Francis, named after their founder, 
devoted themselves to all manner of blasphemy, to all 
manner of offence. In a spot whose beauty might well 
be expected to have only a softening influence, whose 
memories might at least be found exalting, a handful of 
disreputable men gathered together to degrade the place, 
and, as far as that was possible, themselves, with the 
beastly pleasures and beastly humors of the ingrained 

The Hell-Fire Club was dead and gone, but the spirit 
of the Hell-Fire Club was alive and active. The monks 
of St. Francis were worthy pupils of the principles of the 
Duke of Wharton. They sought to make their profligacy, 
in which they strove to be unrivalled, piquant by a parody 
of the religious ceremonies of the Christian faith. The 
energy and the earnestness which other men devote to the 
advancement of some public cause, to the furtherance of 
their country^s welfare, or even to the gratification of their 
own ambitions, these men devoted to a passion for being 
pre-eminent in sin, conspicuous in infamy. If they suc- 
ceeded in nothing else, they succeeded in making their 
names notorious and shameful, they succeeded in stirring 
the envy of men no better than they, but less enabled by 
wealth or position to gratify their passions. They suc- 
ceeded in arousing the loathing not merely of honest men. 
but even of the knaves and fools whose rascality was not 
so rotten and whose folly was not so foul as that of the 
noblemen and statesmen who rioted within the walls of 

It is curious and melancholy to record that the leading 
spirits of this abominable brotherhood were legislators in 
both Houses of Parliament, men of old family, great posi- 
tion, large means, men holding high public office, members 
of the Government. Their follies and their sins would 
scarcely be worth remembering to-day were it not for the 
chance that gave them for companion and ally one of the 
most remarkable men of his age, a man whose abilities 
were in striking contrast to those of his associates, a man 
who might almost be called a man of genius. 


John Wilkes was the son of a rich distiller and of a 
Presbyterian mother. He had received a good education 
in England and at Leyden, where so many of the English- 
men of that day went as students. He had travelled much 
in his youth upon the Continent. On his return he was 
induced by his father, he being then only two-and-twenty, 
to marry a lady who was exceedingly rich, but who had 
the misfortune to be at least ten years older than her hus- 
band. It is scarcely surprising to find that the marriage 
did not turn out happily. Wilkes was young, fresh from 
the bright Continental life, delighting in pleasure and the 
society of those who pursued pleasure. How far a happier 
marriage might have influenced him for good it were idle 
to consider. His marriage he regarded always and spoke 
of always as a sacrifice to Plutus, not to Venus, and he 
certainly was at no pains to make it any more of a sacrifice 
than he could help. His wild tastes, his wild companions 
soon sickened and horrified Mrs. Wilkes. The ill-matched 
pair separated, and remained separate for the rest of their 

Wilkes was delighted to be free. He was at liberty to 
squander his money unquestioned and unchallenged in 
the society of as pretty a gang of scoundrels as even the 
age could produce. No meaner, more malignant, or more 
repulsive figure darkens the record of the last century 
than that of Lord Sandwich. Sir Francis Dashwood ran 
him close in infamy. Mr. Thomas Potter was the peer 
of either in beastliness. All three were members of Par- 
liament; all three were partially responsible for the legis- 
lation of the country; two were especially so responsible. 
All three were bound at least to a decorous acknowledgmcDt 
of the observances of the Church; one was in especial so 
bound. Sir Francis Dashwood and Lord Sandwich were, 
then or thereafter, members of the Government. Sir 
Francis Dashwood was remarkable as having been the 
worst and stupidest Chancellor of the Exchequer known 
to history. Lord Sandwich was made First Lord of the 
Admiraltv. As for the third in this triumvirate of black- 
guards^ Mr. Thomas Potter was a son of the Archbishop 


of Canterbury, and he was soon afterwards made Vice- 
Treasurer for Ireland. Into such honorable hands were 
the duties of government delivered less than a century 
and a half ago. 

In this society Wilkes was made very welcome. He 
brought to their filthy fooleries something resembling wit ; 
he brought an intelligence as far above that of his com- 
panions as that of the monkey is above that of the rabbit. 
While he had money he spent it as royally as the rest. If 
he rivalled them in their profligacy, he outstripped them 
by his intellect. They were conspicuous only by their 
vices; he would have been a remarkable man even if it 
had pleased Providence to make him virtuous. It had 
not pleased Providence to make him attractive to look 
upon. There were few uglier men of his day ; few who lost 
less by their ugliness. But though we are well assured 
that his appearance was repulsive, he redeemed his hideous- 
ness by his ready tongue and witty mind. He said of him- 
self, truly enough, that he only wanted half an hour's 
start to make him even with the handsomest man in Eng- 

Wilkes flung his money and his wife's money about reck- 
lessly, while he played his part as a country gentleman 
upon the estate at Aylesbury which his unhappy wife had 
resigned to him when they separated. Of this money some 
eight thousand pounds went in an unsuccessful attempt 
to bribe his way into the representation of Berwick, and 
seven thousand more went in the successful attempt to buy 
himself the representation of Aylesbury. It is probable 
that he hoped to advance his failing fortunes in Parlia- 
ment. His fortunes were failing, failing fast. He made 
an ignoble attempt to bully his wife out of the miserable 
income of two hundred a year which was all that she had 
paved out of her wealth, but the attempt was happily de- 
feated by that Court of King's Bench against which Wilkes 
was to be pitted later in more honorable hostility. 

It was perhaps impossible that Wilkes could long re- 
main content with the companionship of men like Dash- 
wood^ and Sandwich; it was certainly impossible that men 


like Dashwood and like Sandwich could for long feel 
comfortable in the companionship of a man so infinitely 
their superior in wit, intelligence, and taste. The pane- 
gyrists of Sandwich — for even Sandwich had his pane- 
gyrists in an age when wealth and rank commanded com- 
pliment — found the courage to applaud Sandwich as a 
scholar and an antiquarian, on the strength of an account 
of some travels in the Mediterranean, which the world 
has long since willingly let die. But the few weeks or 
months of foreign travel that permitted Sandwich to pose 
as a connoisseur when he was not practising as a profli- 
gate could not inspire him with the humor or the appre- 
ciation of Wilkes, and a friendship only cemented by a 
common taste for common vices soon fell asunder. There 
is a story to the effect that the quarrel began with a practi- 
cal Joke which Wilkes played off on Sandwich at Medmen- 
ham. Sandwich, in some drunken orgy, was induced to 
invoke the devil, whereupon Wilkes let loose a monkey, 
that had been kept concealed in a box, and drove Sand- 
wich into a paroxysm of fear in the belief that his impious 
supplication had been answered. For whatever reason, 
Wilkes and Sandwich ceased to be friends, to Wilkes's cost 
at first, and to Sandwich's after. Sandwich owes his un- 
enviable place in history to his association with Wilkes in 
the first place, and in the next to his alliance with the 
beautiful, unhappy Miss Ray, who was murdered by her 
melancholy lover, the Eev. Mr, Hickman, at the door of 
Covent Garden Theatre. The fate of his mistress and his 
treason to his friend have preserved the name of Sandwich 
from the forgetfulness it deserved. 

In those days Wilkes made no very remarkable figure in 
Parliament. It was outside the walls of Westminster that 
he first made a reputation as a public man. In the un- 
popularity of Bute, Wilkes found opportunity for his own 
popularity. The royal peace policy was very unwelcome, 
and agitated the feeling of the country profoundly. Po- 
litical controversy ran as high in the humblest cross- 
channels as in the main stream of courtly and political 
life. At that time, we are told by a contemporary letter- 


writer, the mason would pause in his task to discuss the 
progress of the peace, and the carpenter would neglect his 
work to talk of the Princess Dowager, of Lord Treasurers 
and Secretaries of State. To win support and sympathy 
from such keen observers, the Ministry turned again for 
aid to the public press that had been so long neglected ])y 
the Whigs. Smollett, the remembered novelist. Murphy, 
the forgotten dramatist, were commissioned to champion 
the cause of the Government in the two papers, the Briton 
and the Auditor. 

The Government already had a severe journalistic critic 
in the Monitor, a newspaper edited by John Entinck, 
which had been started in 1755. The Monitor was not at 
all like a modern newspaper. It was really little more 
than a weekly pamphlet, a folio of six pages published 
every Saturda}^, and containing an essay upon the politi- 
cal situation of the hour. Its hostility to Bute goaded 
the minister into the production of the Briton, which was 
afterwards supplemented by the creation of the Auditor 
when it was found that Smollett had called up against 
the Ministry a more terrible antagonist than the Monitor. 
For the Briton only lives in the memories of men because 
it called into existence the North Briton. 

Wilkes had entered Parliament as the impassioned fol- 
lower of Pitt. He made manv confessions of his desire 
to serve his country, professions which may be taken as 
sincere enough. But he was also anxious to serve himself 
and to mend his fortunes, and he did not find in Parlia- 
mentary life the advancement for which he hoped. Twice 
he sought for high position under the Crown, and twice 
he was unsuccessful. He wished to be made ambassador 
to Constantinople, where he would have found much that 
was congenial to him, and his wish was not granted. He 
wished to be made Governor-General of the newly con- 
quered Quebec, and again his desires were unheeded. 
Wilkes believed that Bute was the cause of his double dis- 
appointment. He became convinced that while the favors 
of the State lay in Bute's hands they would only be given 
to Tories, and more especially to Tories who were also 


Scotchmen. If Bute could have known, it would have 
been a happy hour for him which had seen Wilkes start- 
ing for the Golden Horn or sailing for the St. Lawrence. 
But Bute was a foolish man, and he did his most foolish 
deed when he made Wilkes his enemy. 

The appearance of the North Briton was an event in 
the history of journalism as well as in the political history 
of the country. It met the heavy-handed violence of the 
Briton with a frank ferocity which was overpowering. It 
professed to fight on the same side as the Monitor, but it 
surpassed Entinck's paper as much in virulence as in 
ability. Under the whimsical pretence of being a North 
Briton, Wilkes assailed the Scotch party in the State with 
unflagging satire and unswerving severity. In the satire 
and the severity he had an able henchman in Charles 

Those who are inclined to condemn Wilkes because for a 
season he found entertainment in the society of a Sand- 
wich, a Dashwood, and a Potter, must temper their judg- 
ment by remembering the affection that Wilkes was able 
to inspire in the heart of Churchill. While the scoun- 
drels of Medmenham were ready to betray their old asso- 
ciate, and, with no touch of the honor proverbially at- 
tributed to thieves, to drive him into disgrace, to exile, and 
if possible to death, the loyal friendship of the poet was 
given to Wilkes without reserve. Churchill was not a 
man of irreproachable character, of unimpeachable moral- 
ity, or of unswerving austerity. But he was as different 
from the Sandwiches and the Dashwoods as dawn is dif- 
ferent from dusk, and in enumerating all of the many 
arguments that are to be accumulated in defence of Wilkes, 
not the least weighty arguments are that while on the one 
hand he earned the hatred of Sandwich and of Dashwood, 
on the other hand he earned the love of Charles Churchill. 

Churchill's name and fame have suffered of late years. 
Since Byron stood by the neglected grave and mused on 
him who blazed, the comet of a season, the genius of 
Churchill has been more and more disregarded. But the 
Georgian epoch, so rich in its many and contrasting types 

1731-64. THE POET CHURCHILL. 53 

of men of letters, produced few men more remarkable in 
themselves, if not in their works, than Charles Churchill. 
The cleric who first became famous for most unclerical 
assaults upon the stage, the satirist who could be the most 
devoted friend, the seducer who could be so loyal to his 
victim, the spendthrift who could be generous, the cynic 
who could feel and obey the principles of the purest 
patriotism, was one of those strangely compounded natures 
in which each vice was as it were effaced or neutralized 
by some compensating virtue. It may be fairly urged 
that while Churchill's virtues were his own, his vices were 
in large part the fault of his unhappy destiny. The West- 
minster boy who learned Latin under Vincent Bourne, 
and who was a schoolfellow of Warren Hastings, of Cow- 
per, and of Colman, might possibly have made a good 
scholar, but was certainly not of the stuff of which good 
clergymen are made. An early marriage, an unhappy mar- 
riage contracted in the Eules of the Fleet, had weighed 
down his life with encumbrances almost before he had 
begun to live. Compelled to support an unsuitable wife 
and an increasing family, Churchill followed his father's 
example and his father's injudicious counsel and took Holy 
Orders. Men took Orders in those days with a light heart. 
It afforded the needy a livelihood, precarious indeed for 
the most part, but still preferable to famine. Men took 
Orders with no thought of the sanctity of their calling, 
of the solemn service it exacted, of its awful duties and 
its inexorable demands. They wished merely to keep 
famine from the door, to have food and fire and shelter, 
and they took Orders as under other conditions they would 
have taken the King's shilling, with no more feeling of 
reverence for the black cassock than for the scarlet coat. 
Churchill was not the man to wear the clergyman's gown 
with dignity, or to find in the gravity of his office consola- 
tion for the penury that it entailed. The Establishment 
offered meagre advantages to an extravagant man with an 
extravagant wife. He drifted deeper and deeper into 
debt. He became as a wandering star, reserved for the 
blackness of bailiffs and the darkness of duns. But the 


rare quality he had in him of giving a true friendship to 
his friend won a like quality from other men. Dr. Lloyd, 
under-master of his old school of Westminster, came to 
his aid, helj^ed him in his need, and secured the patience 
of his creditors. He was no longer harassed, but he was 
still poor, and the spur of poverty drove him to tempt 
his fortune in letters. Like so many a literary adventurer 
of the eighteenth century, he saw in the writing of verse 
the sure way to success. Like so many a literary adventurer 
of the century, he carried his first efforts unsuccessfully 
from bookseller to bookseller. The impulses of his wit 
were satirical; he was not dismayed by failure; the stage 
had entertained him and irritated him, and he made the 
stage the subject of his first triumph. " The Rosciad " 
was in every sense a triumph. Its stings galled the vanity 
of the players to frenzy. At all times a susceptible brother- 
hood, their susceptibilities were sharply stirred by 
Churchill's corrosive lines and acidulated epigrams. Their 
indignation finding vent in hot recrimination and virulent 
lampoon only served to make the poem and its author 
better known to the public. Churchill replied to the worst 
of his assailants in " The Apology," which rivalled the 
success of " The Eosciad," and gained for the satirist the 
friendship of Garrick, who had affected to disdain the 
praises of " The Rosciad,'' but who now recognized in 
time the power of the satirist and the value of his approval. 
Churchill himself was delighted with his good fortune. 
He was the talk of the town; he had plenty of money in 
his pocket; he was separated from his wife, freed from 
his uncongenial profession, and he could exchange the 
solemn black of the cleric for a blue coat with brass but- 
tons and a gold-laced hat. 

Lest the actors whom he had lashed should resort to 
violence for revenge, he carried with ostentation a sturdy 
cudgel. It was a formidable weapon in hands like 
Churchill's, and Churchill was not molested. For Churchill 
was a man of great physical strength. He tells the world 
in the portrait he painted of himself of the vastness of 
his bones, of the strength of his muscles, of his arms like 


two twin oaks^ of his legs fashioned as if to bear the weight 
of the Mansion House, of his massive body surmounted 
by the massive face, broader than it was long. The ugly 
face was chieflv remarkable, accordins: to the confession 
of its owner, for its expression of contentment, though 
the observant might discern " sense lowering in the pent- 
house of his eye.'' l^ike most giants, he overtaxed his 
strength, both mentally and physically. Whatever he did 
he did with all his mighty energy. He loved, hated, work- 
ed, played, at white heat as it were, and withered up his 
forces with the flame they fed. In nothing did his zeal 
consume itself more hotly than in his devotion to Wilkes. 

Churchill met Wilkes in 1762, and seems to have fallen 
instantly under the spell which Wilkes found it so easy to 
exercise upon all who came into close contact with him. 
Undoubtedly Churchill's friendship was very valuable to 
Wilkes. If Churchill loved best to express his satire in 
verse, he could write strongly and fiercely in prose, and 
the North Briton owed to his pen some of its most brilliant 
and some of its bitterest pages. In the North Briton 
Wilkes and Churchill laid about them lustily, striking at 
whatever heads they pleased, holding their hands for no 
fame, no dignity, no influence. It was wholly without fear 
and wholly without favor. If it assailed Bute again and 
again with an unflagging zeal, it was no less ready to 
challenge to an issue the greatest man who ever accepted 
a service from Bute, and to remind Dr. Johnson, who had 
received a pension from the King's favorite, of his own 
definition of a pension and of a pensioner. 

Before the fury and the popularity of the North Briton 
both the Auditor and the Briton had to strike their colors. 
The Auditor came to its inglorious end on February 8, 

1763. The Briton died on the 12th of the same month, 
leaving the North Briton master of the field. Week after 
week the North Briton grew more severe in its strictures 
upon the Government, strictures that scorned the veil of 
hint and innuendo that had hitherto prevailed in these 
pamphleteering wars. Even the Monitor had always al- 
luded to the statesmen whom it assailed by initial letters. 


The North Briton called them by their names in all the 
plainness of full print, the name of the sovereign not 
being excepted from this courageous rule. But the fame 
of the North Briton only came to its full with the number 




When Bute disappeared from the public leadership of 
his party, Wilkes, from professedly patriotic motives, de- 
layed the publication of the current number of the North 
Briton, to see if the policy which Bute had inspired still 
guided the actions of the gentle shepherd, George Gren- 
ville. Wilkes wished to know if the influence of the 
Scottish minister was at an end, or if he still governed 
through those wretched tools Vv^ho had supported the most 
odious of his measures, the ignominious peace, and the 
wicked extension of the arbitrary mode of excise. He de- 
clared himself that if Bute only intended to retire into 
that situation which he held before he took the seals, a 
situation in which he dictated to every part of the King's 
administration, Wilkes was as ready to combat the new 
Administration as he had been steady in his opposition to 
a single, insolent, incapable, despotic minister. 

Any hope that Wilkes may have entertained of a refor- 
mation of the Ministry was dispelled by a talk which he 
had with Temple and Pitt at Temple's house, where 
Temple showed him an early copy of the King's speech. 
Wilkes, Pitt, and Temple were entirely in agreement as 
to the fatal defects of the speech, and Wilkes went prompt- 
ly home and wrote the article which made the forty-fifth 
number of the North Briton famous. 

In itself the number forty-five was no stronger in its 
utterances than many of the preceding numbers. If its 
tone be compared with the tone of journalistic criticism of 
ministers or their sovereign less than a generation later, 
it seems sober and even mild. Wilkes's article started with 
a citation from Cicero : " Genus orationis atrox et vehe- 


mens, cui opponitur genus illud alterum lenitatis et man- 
suetudinis." Then came Wilkes's comment on the speech. 
He was careful not to criticize directly the King. With a 
prudence that was perhaps more ironical than any direct 
stroke at the sovereign, he attacked the minister who 
misled and misrepresented the monarch. " The King's 
speech has always been considered by the legislature and 
by the public at large as the speech of the minister." 

Starting from this understanding, Wilkes went on to 
stigmatize the Address as " the most abandoned instance of 
ministerial effrontery ever attempted to be imposed upon 
mankind,'^ and he doubted whether " the imposition is 
greater upon the sovereign or on the nation." " Every 
friend of his country," the writer declared, " must lament 
that a ]Drince of so many great and amiable qualities, whom 
England truly reveres, can be brought to give the sanction 
of his sacred name to the most odious measures and to the 
most unjustifiable public declarations from a throne ever 
renowned for truth, honor, and unsullied virtue." 

The article was not intemperate and it certainly was not 
unjust. But when it appeared the King was still new 
flushed with his idea of his own personal authority in the 
State, and the slightest censure of his policy goaded him 
into a kind of frenzy. Had Wilkes endeavored with his 
own hand to kill the King in his palace of St. James's he 
could hardly have made the monarch more furious. He 
had long hated and his ministers had long dreaded the 
outspoken journalist. King and ministers now felt that 
the time had arrived when they could strike, and strike 
effectively. The King commanded the law officers of the 
Crown to read the article and give their opinion upon it. 
The law officers did the work that they knew the King ex- 
pected from them. They found that the paper was an in- 
famous and seditious libel tending to incite the people to 
insurrection. They declared that the offence was one pun- 
ishable in due course of law as a misdemeanor. Upon this 
hint the ministers acted, rapidly and rashly. A general 
warrant was issued for the apprehension of the authors, 
printers, and publishers of the North Briton. The printer 


and the publisher were arrested and brought before Lord 
Halifax and Lord Egremont, to whom they gave up the 
names of John Wilkes and Charles Churchill as the authors 
of the North Briton. The next step was to arrest Wilkes 

The King's messengers came upon Wilkes in his house 
in Great George Street, Westminster. It is honorably 
characteristic of the man that in the moment of his own 
danger he felt more concern for the danger of another. 
While he was arguing with the officials that they had no 
power to arrest him, as he was a member of Parliament 
and therefore privileged against arrest, Churchill came 
into the room on a visit to Wilkes. Churchill, Wilkes 
knew, was as certain to be arrested as he was. Churchill 
could plead no privilege. It was probable that the mes- 
sengers were unfamiliar with Churchill's face. Wilkes, 
with happy good-nature and happy audacity, immediately 
hailed Churchill as Mr. Thompson, clasped his hand and 
inquired affectionately how Mrs. Thompson did and if she 
was going to dine in the country. If Wilkes was clever 
in his suggestion Churchill was no less clever in taking the 
hint. He thanked Wilkes, declared that Mrs. Thompson 
was at that moment waiting for him, and that he had 
merely called in to inquire after the health of Wilkes. 
Saying which, Churchill swiftly bowed himself out, hur- 
ried home, secured all his papers, and disappeared into 
the country. The King's messengers, who were promptly 
at his lodgings, were never able to discover his whereabouts. 

The flight to which Wilkes so ingeniously assisted him 
is not the brightest part of Churchill's career. He carried 
with him into his retreat a young girl, a ^liss Carr, the 
daughter of a Westminster stonecutter, whom the charms 
of Churchill's manners had induced to leave her father's 
house. He could not marry the girl, as he was married 
already, and, to do him justice, he appears soon to have re- 
pented the wrong he had done her. But after an unsuc- 
cessful attempt on the girl's part to live again with her 
o\^ai people she returned to her lover, and she lived with her 
lover to the end. Churchill seems to have been sincerely 


attached to her. If he had been a free man, if his life had 
not been blighted by his early unhappy marriage, their 
union might have been a very happy one. At his death he 
left annuities to both women, to the woman he had mar- 
ried and the woman he had loved, the wife's annuity being 
the larger of the two. 

While Churchill was making his way as quickly as pos- 
sible out of a town that his services to his friend had 
rendered too hot to hold him, Wilkes was immediately 
hurried before Lord Halifax and Lord Egremont at White- 
hall. He carried himself very composedly in the presence 
of his enemies. He persistently asserted his privilege, as 
a member of Parliament, against arrest. He refused to 
answer any questions or to acknowledge the authorship of 
No. 45 of the North Briton. He professed with equal en- 
thusiasm his loyalty to the King and his loathing of the 
King's advisers, and he announced his intention of bring- 
ing the matter before Parliament the moment that the 
session began. Egremont and Halifax retaliated by send- 
ing Wilkes to the Tower and causing his house to be 
searched and all his papers to be seized. The high-handed 
folly of the King's friends had for their chief effect the 
conversion of men who had little sympathy for Wilkes 
into, if not his advocates, at least his allies against the 
illegal methods which were employed to crush him. 

Wilkes, through his friends, immediately applied to 
the Court of Common Pleas for a writ of habeas corpus. 
This was at once obtained, and was served upon the mes- 
sengers of the Secretary of State. But Wilkes was no 
longer in their custody, and Wilkes was detained in the 
Tower for a whole week, part of the time, as he declared, 
in solitary confinement, before he was brought into court. 
Judge Pratt immediately ordered his discharge on the 
ground of his claim to immunity from arrest as a member 
of Parliament, without prejudice to any later action 
against him. 

It was while Wilkes was before Pratt at Westminster 
that, if we may accept the authority of Churchill, one of 
Wilkes's keenest enemies seized an opportunity for a cruel 


revenge. Hogarth hated both Wilkes and Churchill. He 
had begun the quarrel by attacking the North Briton and 
the Monitor in his cartoon " The Times/' executed for 
the greater glorification of the painter's patron, Lord Bute. 
The North Briton replied to this attack with a vigor which 
infuriated Hogarth, who had his full share of the irritable 
vanity which the world always attributes to the artist. 
In Wilkes's difficulty Hogarth saw his opportunity. Lurk- 
ing behind a screen in the Court of Common Pleas, the 
painter sought and found an opportunity for making a 
sketch of Wilkes. While Justice Pratt, with what Wilkes 
called " the eloquence and courage of old Pome," was lay- 
ing down the law upon the prisoner's plea preparatory to 
setting him at liberty, Hogarth's busy jDencil was engaged 
upon the first sketch for that caricature which has helped 
to make Wilkes's features famous and infamous through- 
out the world. The print was promptly published at a 
shilling, and com.manded an enormous sale. Nearly four 
thousand copies, it is said, were sold within a few weeks. 
The envenomed skill of Hogarth has made the appearance 
of Wilkes almost as familiar to us as to the men of his own 
time. The sneering, satyr face, the sinister squint, the 
thrust-out chin and protruding lower jaw belong to a 
face severely visited by Nature, even when liberal allow- 
ance is made for the animosity that prompted the hand 
of the caricaturist. The caricature was a savage stroke; 
to Wilkes's friends it seemed to be a traitor's stroke. 
Wilkes appears to have taken it, as he took most things, 
with composure. ^' I know," he wrote later, " but one 
short apology to be made for the person of Mr. Wilkes; 
it is that he did not make himself, and that he never was 
solicitous about the case of his soul (as Shakespeare calls 
it) only so far as to keep it clean and in health. I never 
once heard that he hung over the glassy stream, like 
another Narcissus, admiring the image in it, nor that he 
ever stole an amorous look at his counterfeit in a side 
mirror. His form, such as it is, ought to give him no pain 
while it is capable of giving so much pleasure to others. 
I believe he finds himself tolerably happy in the clay cot- 


tage to wliich he is a tenant for life, because he has learned 
to keep it in pretty good order; while the share of health 
and animal spirits which Heaven has given him shall hold 
ont, I can scarcely imagine he will be one moment peevish 
about the outside of so precarious, so temporary a habita- 
tion, or will ever be brought to own ' Ingenium Galbae 
male habitat :' ' Monsieur est mal loge.' " Good-humored 
at the time, his good-humor persevered, and in later life 
he was wont to say jestingly that he found he was growing 
more and more like his famous portrait every day. But 
if it was becoming of Wilkes to bear the attack in so serene 
and even so jocular a spirit, it was not unbecoming, as it 
was not ungenerous, of his friends to fail to imitate the 
coolness of their leader. It is not quite easy to understand 
why, in an age of caricature, an age when all men of any 
notoriety were caricatured, the friends of Wilkes were so 
sensitive to the satire of Hogarth. Public men, and the 
friends of public men, have grown less sensitive. However, 
Wilkes's friends were, and showed themselves to be, as 
angry as Wilkes was, or showed himself to be, indifferent, 
and the hottest and angriest of them all was Churchill. 
Churchill could retaliate, and Churchill did retaliate with 
a ferocity that equalled and more than equalled Hogarth's. 
With a rage that was prompted by friendship, yet with 
a coolness that the importance of the cause he championed 
called for, Churchill aimed blow after blow upon the 
offending painter. The skill of a practised executioner 
directed every stroke to a fresh spot, and with every stroke 
brought blood. The satirist called upon Hogarth by his 
name, to stand forth and be tried " in that great court 
where conscience must preside," bade him review his life 
from his earliest youth, and say if he could recall a single 
instance in which 

Thou with an equal eye didst genius view 
And give to merit what was merit's due? 
Genius and merit are a sure offence, 
And thy soul sickens at the name of sense. 

The poet goes on to say that " when Wilkes our country- 


man, our common friend arose, his King, his country to 
defend," Malice 

Had killed thee, tottering on life's utmost verge, 
Had Wilkes and Liberty escaped thy scourge. 

And then, in some two hundred lines of strenuous rage, 
Churchill denounced Hogarth with a denunciation that 
was the more effective because it was accompanied by a 
frank and full recognition of Hogarth's great gifts and 
deserved title to fame. Hogarth retaliated by his famous 
caricature of Churchill as a canonical bear with a pot of 
porter in one paw and a huge cudgel in the other, the 
knots on the cudgel being numbered as Lie 1, Tie 2, and 
so forth. Instantly the great caricaturist was attacked by 
others eager to strike at one wdio had struck so hard in his 
day. The hatred of Bute was extended to the painter who 
condescended to accept Bute's patronage, and who labored 
to please his patron. Hogarth w^as derided as " The 
Butyner," in mockery of his " Analysis of Beauty." It 
would have been as lucky for Hogarth as it would have 
been luckv for Bute to let Wilkes alone. 

If Wilkes's release filled his supporters throughout the 
country with delight, it only spurred on his enemies to 
fresh attempts and fresh blunders. Had they left the 
matter where it stood, even though it stood at a defeat to 
them, they would have spared themselves much ignominy. 
But the fury of the King inspired a fiercer fury in the 
ministers and those who followed the ministers. Every 
weapon at their command was immediately levelled at 
Wilkes, even, it may not be unfairly asserted, the assassin's 
weapon. Wilkes carried himself gallantly, defiantly, even 
insolently. His attitude w^as not one to tempt angry 
opponents to forbearance. His letters from the Tower 
and after his release to Lord Halifax were couched in the 
most contemptuous language. He brought an action 
against Lord Halifax. He brought an action against Mr. 
Wood, the Under-Secretary of State, and was awarded 
£1,000 damages. When Lord Egremont died, in the Au- 
gust of 1763, Wilkes declared that he had " been gathered 


to the dull of ancient days." He republished the numbers 
of the North Briton in a single volume with notes, to prove 
that the King's speech could constitutionally be only re- 
garded as the utterance of the King's ministers. There 
must have been a splendid stubbornness in the man which 
enabled him to face so daringly, so aggressively, the des- 
perate odds against him. 

Every man who wished to curry favor with the King and 
the King's ministers was ready to strike his blow at Wilkes. 
There was not a bully among the hangers-on of the King 
and ministers who was not eager to cross swords with 
Wilkes or level pistol at him. Insult after insult, injury 
after injury, were offered to the obnoxious politician. The 
King dismissed him from the colonelcy of the Bucking- 
hamshire Militia. Lord Temple was the Lord-Lieutenant 
of the county of Buckinghamshire, and as Lord-Lieutenant 
it was his duty to convey to Wilkes the news of his disgrace. 
Never was such news so conveyed. Temple told Wilkes of 
his dismissal in a letter of warm enthusiasm, of warm per- 
sonal praise. The King immediately retaliated by remov- 
ing Temple from the Lord-Lieutenancy and striking his 
name off the list of privy councillors. The enmity was not 
confined to the King and to the parasites who sought to 
please the King. Dr. Johnson declared that if he were 
the monarch he would have sent half a dozen footmen to 
duck Wilkes for daring to censure his royal master or his 
royal master's ministers. In the House of Commons the 
hostility was at its height. When Parliament met Wilkes 
sought to call the attention of the House to his case, but 
was anticipated by Grenville, who read a royal message 
directed at Wilkes, the result of which was that the House 
voted that the number Forty-five of the North Briton was 
a seditious libel, and ordered it to be burned by the com- 
mon hangman. 

The basest part of the attack upon Wilkes was the use 
that his enemies made of his private papers, the way in 
which they associated his political conduct with an offence 
that was wholly unpolitical. It had amused Wilkes to set 
up a private printing-press at his own house. At this 


press certain productions were printed which were no doubt 
indecent, which were no doubt blasphemous, but which 
were furthermore so foolish as to make both their indecency 
and their blasphemy of very little effect. One was the 
" Essay on Woman," written as a parody of Pope's " Essay 
on Man ;" the other was an imitation of the " Yeni Crea- 
tor." Xeither of these pieces of gross buffoonery bore any 
author's name. Very few copies of them had been printed, 
and these few solely for circulation among private friends 
with a taste for foul literature. Xo offence had been com- 
mitted, no offence had been intended, against public mo- 
rality. It is certain, as far as any literary puzzle can be 
regarded as certain, that Wilkes's share in the dirty busi- 
ness was chiefly, if not entirely, limited to the printing of 
the pages. The " Essay on Woman," as those who have 
had the misfortune to read it know, is a dreary writer's 
piece of schoolboy obscenity, if entirely disgusting, no less 
entirely dull. The text of the " Essay " was composed in 
great part, if not altogether, by Potter, the unworthy son 
of the Archbishop of Canterbury and worthy member of 
the ^ledmenham brotherhood. When Wilkes's papers were 
seized, or by some other means, the Government got pos- 
session of the proof sheets of the " Essay on Woman." 
They immediately resolved, in defiance of public decenc}'', 
of political moralit}', to use it as a weapon against their 
enemy. It shows the shallo"«Tiess of their pretence at justi- 
fication that they put the weapon into the hands of the 
worst and basest of Wilkes's former friends and allies in 
profligacy, into the hands of Lord Sandwich. On the first 
night of the session Lord Sandwich rose in the House of 
Lords, and proceeded to denounce Wilkes and the " Essay 
on Woman " with a vehemence of false austerity that im- 
pressed the assembly and infinitely delighted Lord Le De- 
spencer, who had been the common friend, the brother 
sinner of accuser and accused, and who now expressed 
much entertainment at hearing the devil preach. The 
spurious virtue of Sandwich was followed by the spurious 
indignation of Warburton. The " Essay on Woman " con- 
tained certain notes written in parody of Warburton's notes 
VOL. ni. — 3 


to the '' Essay on Man/' just as the verses themselves were 
a parody on Pope's poem. Warburton chose to regard this 
as a breach of privilege, and he assailed Wilkes with even 
greater fury than Sandwich had done, winding np by 
apologizing to the devil for even comparing Wilkes to him. 
An admiring House immediately voted the poems obscene, 
libellous, and a breach of privilege. Two days afterwards 
an address from the Lords called upon the King to prose- 
cute Wilkes for blasphemy. 

Wilkes was unable to face this new attack. He had al- 
ready fallen a victim to an attack of another and no less 
malignant nature. While the creatures of the Government 
in the Upper House were trying to destroy his character, one 
of their creatures in the Lower House was doing his best 
to take Wilkes's life. This was a man named Martin, who 
had been attacked in the North Briton some eight months 
earlier. Martin seemed to have resolved upon revenge, 
and to have set about obtaining it after the fashion not 
of the gentleman, but of the bravo. Day by day, week by 
week, month by month he practised himself in pistol shoot- 
ing, until he considered that his skill was sufficient to 
enable him to take the dastard's hazard in a duel. He 
seized the opportunity of the debate on November 15th to 
describe the writer in the North Brito7i as a " coward and 
a malignant scoundrel." When Wilkes, on the following 
day, avowed the authorship of the paper, Martin sent him 
a challenge. The challenge was in all respects a strange 
one. It was treacherous, because it came at the heels of 
deliberate preparation. It was peremptory, for it called 
upon Wilkes to meet his enemy in Hyde Park within an 
hour. It contravened the laws of the duello, because Mar- 
tin, who was the challenger, himself insisted on the use 
of the weapons with which he had made himself so mur- 
derously skilful. Wilkes accepted the duel with char- 
acteristic courage, with characteristic rashness. He met 
Martin in Hyde Park, and the amateur bravo shot Wilkes 
through the body. It is a further characteristic of the 
many elements of good that went to Wilkes's strange com- 
position that, as he lay on the grass bleeding fast and ap- 


parently mortally wounded, his first care was not for him- 
self and his hurt, but for the safety of his adversary, of 
an adversary who deserved chivalrous treatment as little 
as if he had taken Wilkes unawares and shot him in the 

While Wilkes was lying on what threatened to be his 
death-bed the feeling on both sides only increased in in- 
tensity. The Ministry were indifferent to the helplessness 
of their enemy. Wilkes was expelled from the House of 
Commons. He was expelled from the Militia. The com- 
mon hangman was ordered publicly to burn the North 
Briton, but the hangman was not suffered to obey the 
order. An angry mob set upon him and upon the sheriffs 
who were assisting at the ceremony, rescued the North 
Briton from its persecutors, and in rude retaliation burned 
instead the joint emblems of the popular disdain — a boot 
and a petticoat. The people^s blood was up ; the symptoms 
were significant enough for any save such a King and such 
ministers to understand. While the Ministry, with a re- 
finement of cruelty, were sending daily the King^s sur- 
geons to watch Wilkes's health and proclaim the moment 
when he might again be attacked, the Corporation of Dub- 
lin was setting an example that was soon followed by the 
Corporation of London and by other corporations in pre- 
senting him with the freedom of its city. While Wilkes 
was slowly journeying towards Paris, where his daughter 
was, and passing, as he wrote, " the most unhappy days 
he had known," an angry mob gibbeted the effigy of Bute 
at one of the gates of Exeter, and kept the image swinging 
there in derision for a fortnight in defiance of the authori- 
ties. While Wilkes was languishing in foreign exile to 
save his liberty and his very life from the malignity of his 
enemies, his portrait, painted by Ee\Tiolds, was placed in 
the Guildhall with an inscription in honor of the jealous 
assertor of English liberty by law. 

Wilkes was well advised in keeping out of England. 
He had done his part. The decisions of Pratt in the Court 
of Common Pleas, the decisions in the Guildhall, had con- 
ferred a permanent benefit upon the English citizen. But 


Wilkes was not bound to put himself into the power of 
his enemies in order to establish the authorship of the 
" Essay on Woman." His enemies took as much advantage 
as they could of his absence. He was found guilty by the 
Court of King's Bench of having reprinted the number 
Forty-five and of having written the " Essay on Woman." 
As he did not appear to receive his sentence, he was 
promptly outlawed for contumacy. Thus a Ministry wise 
in their own conceit believed that they had got rid of 
Wilkes for good and all. They did not note, or if they 
noted did not heed, that the favorite sign of ale-houses 
throughout the country was the head of Wilkes. They 
were indifferent to the fact that Wilkes had come to be 
regarded in all directions as the champion of popular lib- 
erty. All they knew, all that they cared to know, was that 
Wilkes was in exile, and was like enough to die in exile. 
Even the success of " The Beggar's Opera " taught them 
nothing, and yet the success of " The Beggar's Opera " was 
a significant lesson. " The Beggar's Opera " was revived 
at Covent Garden while the excitement about Wilkes was 
at its height, and its audiences were as ready to read in 
political allusions between the lines as they had been at the 
time of its first production. The line " That Jemmy 
Twitcher should peach on me I own rather surprises me " 
was converted at once into an innuendo at the expense of 
Lord Sandwich, to whom the name Jemmv Twitcher was 
immediately applied by the public at large, almost to the 
disuse, so Horace Walpole tells us, of his own title. 

But the Ministry had so far triumphed that for four 
years Wilkes remained away from England, drifting from 
one foreign capital to another, making friends and win- 
ning admirers everywhere, and employing his enforced 
leisure in attempting great feats of literary enterprise. A 
scheme for a Constitutional History of England was suc- 
ceeded by a no less difficult and, as it proved, no less im- 
practicable scheme. During Wilkes's exile he lost the most 
famous of his enemies and the most famous of his friends. 
On October 26, 1764, Hogarth died. It was commonly 
said, and generally credited, that he died of a broken heart 


in consequence of the furious attacks which had followed 
upon his unhappy quarrel with Wilkes. It was a pity that 
the closing hours of Hogarth's life should have been oc- 
cupied with so petty and so regrettable a squabble. Ho- 
garth was entirely in the wrong. Hogarth began the quar- 
rel; and if Hogarth was eager to give hard knocks he 
should have been readv to take hard knocks in return. But 
the world at large may very well be glad that Hogarth did 
lurk in the court by Justice Pratt and did make his mem- 
orable sketch of Wilkes. The sketch serves to show us if 
not what Wilkes exactly was, at least what Wilkes seemed 
to be to a great many of his countrymen. The caricaturist 
is a priceless commentator. If Hogarth indeed indirectly 
shortened his life by his portrait of Wilkes, he gave, as 
if by transfusion of blood, an increased and abiding vitality 
to certain of the most interesting pages of history. 

Within a few days of Hogarth, Churchill died. His 
devotion to Wilkes prompted him to join him in his Con- 
tinental banishment. He got as far as Boulogne, where 
Wilkes met him, and at Boulogne he died of a fever, after 
formally naming Wilkes as his literary executor. Wilkes, 
who was always prompted by generous impulses, immedi- 
ately resolved that he would edit a collected edition of 
Churchill's works, and for a time he buried himself in 
seclusion in Naples with the firm intention of carrying 
out this purpose. But the task was too great both for the 
man and for the conditions under which he was compelled 
to work. In the first place, annotations of such poems as 
Churchill's required constant reference to and minute ac- 
quaintance with home affairs, such as it was well-nigh im- 
possible for an exile to command. In the second place, 
it was not an easy task for a man even with a very high 
opinion of himself to play the part of editor and annotator 
of poems a great part of which had him for hero. In 
a very short time the work was abandoned, and Wilkes 
emerged from his literary retreat. 

Wilkes has been very bitterly and, as it would appear, 
very unjustly upbraided for his seeming neglect of his dead 
friend's wishes, of his dead defender's fame. In spite of 


those whose zeal for the memory of Churchill drives them 
into antagonism with the memory of Wilkes, it may be 
believed that the task was not one " for which Wilkes 
could, with the greatest ease, have procured all the neces- 
sary materials; and to which he was called not by the 
sacred duties of friendship only, but by the plainest con- 
siderations of even the commonest gratitude." Even if 
Wilkes had been, which Wilkes was not, the kind of a man 
to make a good editor, a good annotator, the difficulties 
that lay in the way of the execution of his task were too 
many. The fact that the poems were so largely about him- 
self gave a sufficient if not an almost imperative reason 
why he should leave the task alone. But in any case he 
must have felt conscious of what events proved, that there 
was other work for him to do in the world than the editing 
of other men's satires. 

Not, indeed, that the genius of Churchill needed any 
tribute that Wilkes or anv one else could bestow. His 
monument is in his own verses, in the story of his life. If 
indeed the lines from "The Candidate" which are inscribed 
on Churchill's tombstone tell the truth, if indeed his life 
was " to the last enjoyed," part of that enjoyment may 
well have come from the certainty that the revolutions of 
time would never quite efface his name or obscure his 
memory. The immortality of the satirist must almost in- 
evitably be an immortality rather historical than artistic; 
it is rather what he says than how he says it which is ac- 
counted unto him for good. As there are passages of great 
poetic beauty in the satires of Juvenal, so there are passages 
of poetic beauty in the satires of Churchill. But they are 
both remembered, the great Roman and the great English- 
man, less for what beauty their work permitted than for 
the themes on which they exercised their wit. The study 
of Churchill is as essential to a knowledge of the eigh- 
teenth century in London as the study of Juvenal is essen- 
tial to a knowledge of the Rome of his time. That fame 
Churchill had secured for himself; to that fame nothing 
that Willies or any one else might do could add. 




Wilkes in exile had ceased to exist in the minds of the 
King's Ministry. In Naples or in Paris he was as little 
to be feared as Churchill in his grave. An insolent subject 
had presumed directly to attack the King's advisers and 
indirectly the King himself, and the insolent subject was a 
fugitive, a broken, powerless man. The young King might 
well be pleased with the success of his policy. In pursuance 
of that policy he had reduced the great fabric of the Whig 
party to a ruin, and had driven the factious demagogue 
who opposed him into an ignominious obscurity. To a 
temper flushed by two such triumphs opposition of any 
kind was well-nigh welcome for the pleasure of crushing 
it, and was never less likely to be encountered in a spirit 
of conciliation. Yet the King was destined in the very 
glow of his success to find himself face to face with an 
opposition which he Avas not able to crush, and on which 
any attempt at conciliation was but so much waste of time. 
The King's new and formidable opponent was his own chief 

When Bute, perhaps in fear for his life, perhaps in 
despair at his unpopularity, resigned the office he filled 
so ill, he hoped to find in his successor Grenville a supple 
and responsive creature, through whom Bute would still 
be as powerful as before. Bute had to taste a bitter dis- 
appointment. Grenville's gloomy spirit and narrow mind 
unfitted him, indeed, for the office he was called upon to 
hold, but they afforded him a stubbornness which declined 
to recognize either the authority of the favorite or the 
authority of the favorite's master. By the time that Gren- 
ville had been two years in office the King hated him as 


bitterly as he had ever hated Pitt. If Bute was impotently 
furious to find himself discarded and despised by his in- 
tended tool, the King was still more exasperated to find that 
the King's servant proposed to be the King's master. Gren- 
ville was a good lawyer and a good man of business, but 
he was extremely dull and extremely tactless, and he was 
at as much pains to offend the King as if he intended 
offence. He was overbearing in manner to a monarch who 
was himself overbearing; he badgered him with long ram- 
bling discourses upon his royal duty ; he deliberately wound- 
ed him in his two warmest affections, his love for his 
mother and his regard for Bute. Grenville was right 
enough in his objection to the undue influence of Bute, 
but his animadversions came with a bad grace from the 
man who was to do as much harm to England as Bute had 
ever done. As Grenville had triumphed over Bute and 
driven him into the background, so he wished to triumph 
over the Princess Dowager and deprive her of power. In 
1765 the King fell ill for the first time of that malady 
from which he was to suffer so often and so heavilv. As 
soon as he was restored to health he proposed the intro- 
duction of a Ee2:encv Bill to settle satisfactorilv the diffi- 
culties that might very well arise if the heir to the throne 
were to succeed before the age of eighteen. 

Grenville acted in the matter of the Eegency Bill as 
if the dearest wish of his heart were to flout the King's 
wishes and to wound his feelings. The King wished, lest 
he should again be stricken with illness while the heir- 
apparent was still an infant, to be given the right to name 
a regent by will. Grenville and Grenville's colleagues, 
who were now as jealous of the authority of Bute as any 
subscriber to the North Briton, saw or professed to see in 
the King's proposal an insidious scheme for placing little 
less than royal power within the reach of the favorite. 
They made it impossible for the King to name Bute by 
limiting his choice to the members of the royal family. 
But they went further than this in affronting the King. 
They limited his choice of a regent to members of the 
royal family, but they also limited the number of mem- 


bers of the royal family from whom he might make his 
choice. They insisted that the name of the King's mother, 
of the Princess Dowager, should not be included in the 
Bill. It is difficult to understand how the King could ever 
have been induced to consent to this peculiarly galling in- 
sult. It seems that Grenville assured him, on entirely 
false premises, that if her name were mentioned in the 
Bill the House of Commons would be certain to strike it 
out. Preferring the private to the public affront, George 
surrendered to his minister, only to find that his minister 
was flagrantly misinformed. The friends of the Princess 
in the House of Commons moved that her name should be 
written into the Bill, and they carried their point in Gren- 
ville's teeth. Grenville had played the tyrant and George 
had accepted the humiliation for nothing. George tried 
at once to overthrow Grenville. In those days a king who 
disliked a minister had a very simple and easy way of 
showing and of gratifying his dislike. He could dismiss 
his minister without ceremony and without question. 
Nowadays a minister depends for his power and tenure of 
office upon the majority in the House of Commons, and a 
sovereign would not think of dismissing a minister, or of 
doing anything else than accepting formally the decision 
of the House of Commons. But when George the Third 
was king the only check upon the royal power of dismiss- 
ing a minister lay in the possible difficulty of finding an- 
other to take his place. This was the check George now 
met. He wanted with all his heart to dismiss Grenville. 
He turned to Cumberland of Culloden, and implored him 
to bring back Pitt and enable him to get rid of Grenville. 
Cumberland tried and Cumberland failed. Pitt was in 
one of those paroxysms of illness which seem to have com- 
pletely overmastered him. He was almost entirely under 
the influence of Temple. Temple's detestation of Bute 
reconciled him to Grenville's policy when he found that 
Grenville seemed to share that detestation. Temple per- 
suaded Pitt to refuse. Cumberland came back to the King 
to tell of his failure. There was nothing to be done. 
Grenville had to be kept on. If the enforced association 


did not make the sovereign and his minister better friends, 
if both smarted under a sense of humiliation and defeat, 
it is scarcely surprising that the stubbornness of both was 
intensified in cases where their stubbornness was pitted 
not against each other, but against a common obstacle. 
Such a case was then in existence. 

Three thousand miles away the wealth and power of 
England was represented by a number of settlements occu- 
pying a comparatively narrow strip of territory on the 
Atlantic seaboard of the North American continent. The 
American colonies were the proudest possessions of the 
British Empire. Through generation after generation, 
for more than two centuries, English daring and English 
courage had built up those colonies, reclaiming them from 
the wilderness and the swamp, wresting them from wild 
man and wild beast, fighting for them with European 
power after European power. They were a source of 
wealth, a source of honor, and a source of strength to Eng- 
land. Tliey were cheaply bought with the brave lives that 
had been given for them. It is hard to realize that any 
sovereign, that any statesman could fail to see how precious 
a possession they were, or how unwise any course of action 
must be which could tend in any way to lessen their affec- 
tion or to alienate their support. Yet such a sovereign 
was upon the throne and such a minister was by his side. 

Mr. Willett, senior, in " Barnaby Eudge," explains to 
his friends that his absent son Joe is away in " the Sal- 
wanners in America, where the war is." Mr. Willett's 
knowledge and appreciation of the American colonies 
represents pretty well for profundity and accuracy the 
knowledge and appreciation of the majority of the English 
people in the times contemporary with, and indeed long 
subsequent to, the quarrels between the old country and 
the new. To the bulk of the British people America was 
a vague and shadowy region, a sort of no-man's land, 
peopled for the m.ost part with black men and red men, 
and dimly associated with sugar-planting and the tobacco 
trade. Its distance alone made it seem sufficiently un- 
real to those whose wav of life was not drawn bv business or 


by politics into association with its inhabitants. The 
voyage to America was a grimly serious adventure, calling 
for fortitude and triple brass. The man was indeed lucky 
who could make the passage from shore to shore in six 
weeks of stormy sea, and the journey generally took a 
much longer time, and under the same conditions of dis- 
comfort and of danger that attended on the voyage of the 
" Mayflower." The vast majority of Englishmen con- 
cerned themselves as little with America as they concerned 
themselves with Hindostan. Both were British possessions, 
and as such important, but both were too far away to 
assume any very substantial reality in the consciousness 
of the bulk of the English people. Of the minority who 
did possess anything that can be called knowledge of the 
American colonies, the majority imbibed its information 
from official sources, from the reports of governors of 
provinces and official servants of the Crown. These re- 
ports were for the most part as reliable for a basis on which 
to build an intelligent appreciation as the legends of the 
Algonquins or the myths of the Six Xations. 

If the English knowledge of the American colonies had 
been a little more precise it would have run to this effect. 
The colonies of the New England region were mainly 
peopled by a hardy, industrious, sober, frugal race, still 
strongly Puritanical in profession and in practice, and 
knowing but little of the extremes of fortune. Neither 
great poverty nor great wealth was common among those 
sturdy farmers, who tended their own farms, tilled their 
own land, lived upon their o^vn produce, and depended for 
their clothing and for most of the necessaries of life upon 
the work of their own hands. A slender population was 
scattered far asunder in lonely townships and straggling 
villages of wooden houses, built for the most part in the 
formidable fashion imposed upon men who might at any 
time have to resist the attacks of Indians. Inside these 
villages the rough, rude justice of the Puritan days still 
persisted. The stocks and the pillory and the stool of 
repentance were things of the present. A shrewish house- 
wife might still be made to stand at her cottage door with 


the iron gag of the scold fastened upon her shameful face. 
A careless Sabbatarian might still find himself exposed to 
the scorn of a congregation, with the words " A wanton 
gospeller " placarded upon his ignominious breast. In- 
side those wooden houses a rude simplicity and a rough 
plenty prevailed. The fare was simple ; the labor was hard ; 
simple fare and stern labor between them reared a stalwart, 
God-fearing race. Its positive pleasures were few and 
primitive. Husking-bees, quiltings, a rare dance, filled 
up the measure of its diversions. But the summer smiled 
upon those steadfast, earnest, rigorous citizens, and in the 
wild and bitter winters each household would gather about 
the cheerful fire in the great chimney which in some of 
those cottages formed the major part of the building, and 
find content and peace in quiet talk and in tales of the 
past, of the French and Indian wars, and of their ances- 
tors, long ago, in old England. Those same great fires 
that were the joy of winter were also one of its troubles. 
Once lit, with all the difficulty attendant upon flint and 
steel and burnt rag, they had to be kept alight from morn- 
ing till night and from night till morning. If a fire went 
out it was a woful business to start it again with the re- 
luctant tinder-box. There was, indeed, another way, an 
easier way, of going round to a neighbor and borrowing a 
shovelful of hot embers wherewith to kindle the blackened 
hearth. But in villages built for the most part of wood 
this might well be regarded as a dangerous process. So 
the law did regard it, and to start a fire in this lazy, loung- 
ing fashion was penalized as sternly as any breach of the 
Sabbath or of public decorum, and these were sternly 
punished. Drunkenness was grimly frowned down. Only 
decent. God-fearing men were allowed to keep taverns, and 
the names of persons who had earned the reputation of 
intemperance were posted up in those taverns as a warn- 
ing to the host that he should sell such men no liquor. In 
Connecticut tobacco was forbidden to any one under twenty 
years of age, unless on the express order of a physician. 
Those who were over twenty were only allowed to smoke 
once a day, and then not within ten miles of any dwelling. 


In spite of their democratic simplicity, even the New 
England colonists had their distinctions of rank as clearly 
marked as among the people of old England. The gentry 
dressed in one fashion; the working classes dressed in 
another. The family rank of students determined their 
places in the lists of Harvard College and Yale College. 
In Boston, the chief New England town, life was naturally 
more elaborate and more luxurious than in the country 
places. Ladies wore fine clothes and sought to be modish 
in the London manner; gentlemen made a brave show 
in gayly colored silks and rich laces, gold-headed canes and 
costly snuff-boxes. Even in Boston, however, life was 
simpler, quieter, and sweeter than it was across the At- 
lantic; there was Puritanism in its atmosphere — Puritan- 
ism and the serenity of learning, of scholarship, of study. 

There was much more wealth in the province of New 
York; there was much more display in the southern 
colonies. New York was as famous for its Dutch cleanli- 
ness and its Dutch comfort as for its Dutch windmills that 
twirled their sails against the sky in all directions. There 
was store of plate and fine linen in New York cupboards. 
There were good things to eat and drink in New York 
households. Down South the gentlefolk lived as gentle- 
folk lived in England, with perhaps a more lavish ostenta- 
tion, a more liberal hospitality. They loved horses and 
dogs, horse-racing and fox-hunting, dancing, music, high 
living, all things that added to the enjoyment of life. 
Their servants were their own black slaves. The great 
city of the South was Charleston, the third of the colonial 
cities. The fourth and last was Philadelphia, the " f aire 
greene country town " of Penn's love, the last in our order, 
but the first in size and splendor, with its flagged side- 
walks that had made it famous throughout the American 
continent as if it had been one of the seven wonders of 
the world, with its stately houses of brick and stone, its 
avenues of trees, its fruitful orchards and sweet-smelling 
gardens. The people of Philadelphia had every right to 
be proud of their city. 

Communication was not easy between one colony and an- 


other, between one town and another. But neither was it 
easy in England. For the most part the conditions of life 
were much the same on one side of the Atlantic as on the 
other. The whole population, white and black, freeman 
and slave, was about two million souls. They were well- 
to-do, peaceable, hard-working — those who had to work, 
good fighters — those who had to fight, all very willing to 
be loyal and all very well worth keeping loyal. It was 
worth their sovereign's while, it was worth the while of 
his ministers, to know something about these colonists 
and to try and understand natures that were not at all 
difficult to understand. Had they been treated as the 
Englishmen they were, all would have been well. But the 
King who gloried in the name of Briton did not extend 
its significance far enough. 

It is not easy to understand the temper which animated 
all the King's actions towards the American colonies. 
They were regarded, and with justice, as one of the great- 
est glories of the English crown ; they were no less a source 
of wealth than of pride to the English people. Yet the 
English prince persisted in pursuing towards them a policy 
which can only be most mildly characterized as a policy 
of exasperation. When George was still both a young man 
and a young king, the relations between the mother coun- 
try and her children across the Atlantic were, if not 
wholly harmonious, at least in such a condition as to 
render harmony not merely possible, but probable. The 
result of a long and wearing war had been to relieve the 
colonists directly from one and indirectly from the other 
of their two greatest perils. By the terms on which peace 
was made the power of France was broken on the North 
American continent. The French troops had been with- 
drawn across the seas. The Lilies of France floated over 
no more important possessions in the new world than a 
few insignificant fishing stations near Newfoundland. A 
dangerous and dreaded enemy to colonial life and liberty 
could no longer menace or alarm. As a consequence of 
the withdrawal of the French troops the last united attack 
of the red men against the white was made and failed. 


The famous conspiracy of Pontiac was the desperate at- 
tempt of the Indian allies of France to annihilate the 
colonists by a concerted attack of a vast union of tribes. 
The conspiracy failed after a bloody war that lasted for 
nearly two years. Pontiac, the Indian chief who had helped 
to destroy Braddock, and who had dreamed that all the 
English might as easily be destroyed, was defeated and 
killed; his league was dissipated, and the power of the 
red men as a united force broken for good. Under such 
conditions of immunity from long-standing and pressing 
perils, due in the main to the triumph of British arms, 
the colonists might very well have been expected to regard 
with especial favor their association with England. If 
there had been differences between the two countries for 
long enough, no moment could have been apter for the 
adoption of a policy calculated to lessen and ultimately to 
abolish those differences than the moment when the wearv 
and wearing Seven Years' War came to its close. A far- 
seeing monarch, advised and encouraged by far-seeing 
statesmen, might have soldered close the seeming impossi- 
bilities and made them kiss. Had the throne even been 
filled by a sovereign slightly less stubborn, had the throne 
been surrounded by servants slightly less bigoted, the 
arrogant patronage of the one part and the aggressive 
protestation of the other part might have been judiciously 
softened into a relationship wisely paternal and loyally 
filial. The advantage of an enduring union between the 
mother country and her colonies was obvious to any 
reasonable observer. A common blood, a common tongue. 
a common pride of race and common interests should have 
kept them together. But the relations were not amicable. 
The colonies were peopled by men who were proud indeed 
of being Englishmen, but by reason of that very pride 
were jealous of any domination, even at the hands of Eng- 
lishmen. The mother country, on the other hand, re- 
garded the colonies, won with English hands and watered 
with English blood, as being no less portion and parcel of 
English soil because three thousand miles of stormy ocean 
lay between the port upon the Severn and the port upon 


the Charles Kiver. She came to regard as mere ingrati- 
tude those assertions of independence which most charac- 
teristicaiiy proved the colonies to be worthy of it and of 
her. The theory of the absolute dominion of England 
over the American colonies might have died a natural 
death, a harmonious settlement of grievances and adjust- 
ment of powers might have knitted the two peoples to- 
gether in an enduring league, if it had not been for George 
the Third. 

The mind of George the Third was saturated with a be- 
lief in his personal importance; the heart of George the 
Third was exalted by the determination to play a domi- 
nating part in the country of his birth and the history of 
his reign. The hostility to the exercise of home authority 
latent in the colonies irritated the King like a personal 
affront. To resist or to resent the authority of the Govern- 
ment of England was to resist and to resent the authority 
of the sovereign who was determined that he would be to 
all intents and purposes the Government of England. If 
the relationship between England and America had been 
far happier than George found it at the time of his acces- 
sion, it probably would not long have preserved a whole- 
some tenor. But the relationship was by no means happy. 
The colonial assemblies were for the most part at logger- 
heads with the colonial governors. These governors, little 
viceroys with petty courts, extremely proud of their power 
and self-conscious in their authority, generally detested 
the popular assemblies upon whom they were obliged to 
depend for the payment of their salaries. Their dislike 
found secret expression in the letters which it was the duty 
and the pleasure of the colonial governors to address to 
the Home Government. The system of colonial adminis- 
tration in England was as simple as it was unsatisfactory. 
At its head was a standing committee of the Privy Council 
which had been established in 1675. This committee was 
known at length as " The Lords of the Committee of Trade 
and Plantations," and in brief and more generally as " The 
Lords of Trade." It was the duty of the colonial governors 
to make lengthy reports to the Lords of Trade on the 


commercial and other conditions of their governorships. 
It was too often their pleasure to supplement these State 
papers with lengthy and embittered private letters, ad- 
dressed to the same body, making the very most and worst 
of the difficulties they had to deal with in their work. 
The colonies, as represented in these semi-official com- 
munications, were turbulent, contumacious, discontented, 
disrespectful to viceregal dignity, rebellious against the 
authority of Great Britain. These communications in- 
formed the minds of the Lords of Trade, who in their turn 
influenced those who were responsible for the conduct of 
the King's Government. Thus a vicious system, acting 
in a vicious circle, kept alive an irritation and fostered a 
friction that only increased with the increasing years. It 
had always been the worst feature of England's colonial 
policy that she was ever ready to accept with too little 
question the animadversions of the governors upon the 
governed. The Lords of Trade accepted the communica- 
tions of the colonial governors as gospel truth, and as 
gospel truth it was taken in its turn by the ministers to 
whom it was transmitted and by the monarch to whom 
they carried it. The general public were as ignorant of 
and as indifferent to the American colonies as if they were 
situated in the mountains of the moon. The major part of 
the small minority that really did seek or desire informa- 
tion about America gained it from the same poisonous 
sources that inspired the Government, and based their 
theories of colonial reform upon the peevish epistles, often 
mendacious and always one-sided, which fed the intelli- 
gences of the Lords of Trade. The few who were really 
well informed, who had something like as accurate an 
appreciation of the colony of Massachusetts as they had 
of the county of Middlesex, were powerless to counteract 
the general ignorance and the more particular misconcep- 
tion. It was the cherished dream of authority in England 
to bring the colonies into one common rule under one 
head in such a way as to strengthen their military force 
while it lessened their legislative independence. It now 
seemed as if with the right King and the right Ministry 


this dream might become a reality. In George the Third 
and in George Grenville prerogative seemed to have found 
the needed instruments to subjugate the American 

Many of the grievances of the colonies were grave 
enough. If some of the injuries that England inflicted 
upon her great dependency seem petty in the enumeration^ 
a number of small causes of irritation are no less danger- 
ous to peace between nations than some great injustice. 
But lest the small stings should not be enough, the Govern- 
ment was resolved that the great injustice should not be 
wanting. The colonists resented the intermittent tyranny 
and the persistent truculence of the most part of the royal 
governors. The colonists resented the enforced transporta- 
tion of criminals. The colonists resented the action of 
Great Britain in annulling the colonial laws made to keep 
out slaves. It is melancholy to reflect that the curse of 
slavery, for which Englishmen of later days often so bit- 
terly and so rightly reproached America, was unhappily 
enforced upon a country struggling to be rid of it by Eng- 
lishmen who called themselves English statesmen. The 
colonists resented the astonishing restrictions which it 
pleased the mother country to place, in what she believed to 
be her own interest, upon colonial trade. These laws com- 
manded that all trade between the colonies should be car- 
ried on in ships built in England or the colonies. This 
barred out all foreigners, especially the Dutch, then the 
chief carriers for Europe. They compelled the American 
farmer to send his products across the ocean to England. 
They forbade the exportation of sugar, tobacco, cotton, 
wool, indigo, ginger, dyeing-woods to any part of the 
world except to England or some English colony. They 
only allowed exportation of fish, fur, oil, ashes, and lumber 
in ships built in England or the colonies. They forced the 
colonists to buy all their European goods in England and 
bring them over to America in English vessels. They 
prohibited the colonial manufacture of any article that 
could be manufactured in England. They harassed and 
minimized the trade between one colony and another. No 


province was permitted to send woollen goods, hats, or 
ironware to another province. Some of the regulations 
read more like the rules of some Turkish pashalik than the 
laws framed by one set of Englishmen for another set of 
Englishmen. In the Maine woods, for instance, no tree 
that had a diameter greater than two feet at a foot above 
the ground could be cut down, except to make a mast for 
some ship of the Ko3^al Navy. 

Bad and bitter as these laws were in theory, they did 
not for long enough prove to be so bad in practice, for the 
simple reason that they were very easy to evade and not 
very easy to enforce. The colonists met what many 
of them regarded as an elaborate system for the restriction 
of colonial trade by a no less elaborate system of smug- 
gling. Smuggling was eavsy because of the long extent of 
sea-coast. Smuggling was lucrative, as few" considered it 
an offence to evade laws that were generally resented as 
unfair. When the Sugar Act of 1733 prohibited the im- 
portation of sugar and molasses from the French West 
Indies except on payment of a prohibitory duty, the New 
England colonists, who did a thriving trade in the off- 
spring of the union of sugar and molasses, rum, found 
themselves faced by a serious problem. Should they accept 
the Act and its consequential ruin of their trade or ignore 
it, and by resorting to smuggling prosper as before ? With- 
out hesitation they decided that their rights as English- 
men were assailed by the obnoxious imposition, and they 
turned to smuggling with the light heart that is conscious 
of a heavy purse. The contraband trade was brisk, the 
contrabandists cheerful, and so long as England made no 
serious attempt to put into operation laws that the genial 
and business-like smugglers of the Atlantic sea-coast re- 
garded as preposterous nobody complained, and interna- 
tional relations were cordial. But the situation was not 
seen with so bright an eye by the British merchant. He 
witnessed with indignation the failure of the attempt to 
monopolize the commerce of the colonies to his own ad- 
vantage, and he clamored for the restoration of his fat 
monopoly. His clamor was unheeded while the great war 


was running its course. But with the end of the war and 
the new conditions consequent upon the advent of a new 
King with a brand-new theory of kingship and prerogative, 
the situation began to change. 

The colonial policy of George Grenville's Administra- 
tion might be conveniently considered under three heads. 
The Ministry was resolved, in the first place, to enforce 
Acts of Trade which smuggling had long rendered mean- 
ingless in the American colonies. The Ministry was re- 
solved, in the second place, to establish a permanent gar- 
rison of some ten thousand men in America. The Ministry 
was resolved, in the third place, to make the colonists pay 
a third of the cost of keeping up this garrison by a direct 
taxation. It was easy enough for Grenville to formulate 
the three ministerial purj^oses, but it was not very easy to 
give them any effect. The colonists resented and the 
colonists resisted all three proposals. If they were tech- 
nically wrong in their resentment at the enforcement of 
the Acts of Trade, they were reasonable in their reluctance 
to accept the proposed garrison, and they were justified 
by every law of liberty and of patriotism in resisting with 
all the strength at their command the proposed scheme of 

The English Government began its task by a rigorous 
attempt to enforce the Acts of Trade. Grenville had 
made up his narrow mind that the colonies should be 
compelled to adhere to the conditions which obliged them 
to trade with England only for England's principal manu- 
factures. There should be no more smuggling from Span- 
ish America, no more smuggling from the West Indies. 
To enforce this determination, which deprived the colo- 
nists at a blow of the most profitable part of their trade, the 
Government employed certain general search warrants, 
which, if strictly legal in the letter, were conceived in a 
spirit highly calculated to goad a proud people into illegal 
defiance. They goaded one proud man into active protest. 
A distinguished servant of the Government, James Otis, 
the King's Advocate, resigned his office in order that he 
might be at liberty to denounce the Writs of Assistance. 


Otis may have been technically wrong in resisting the 
Writs of Assistance, but it can scarcely be questioned that 
as a philosophic politician, who was devoted to the inter- 
ests of his countrymen, he was ethically in the right. Otis 
was thirty-six years old ; he was known to his compatriots 
as a graduate of Harvard, an able lawyer, a zealous student 
of classical literature, and an author of repute on Latin 
prosody. The issue of the Writs of Assistance converted 
the respected and respectable public servant into a con- 
spicuous statesman as hotly applauded by the one side as 
he was execrated by the other. A single speech lifted him 
from an esteemed obscurity to a leading place among the 
champions of colonial rights against imperial aggressions. 
The assemblage which Otis addressed, which Otis domi- 
nated, was forever memorable in the history of America. 
**' Otis was a flame of fire." The words are the words of 
one who was a young man vv^hen Otis spoke, who listened 
and took notes as the words fell from Otis's lips. " With 
a promptitude of classical allusions, a depth of research, a 
rapid summary of historical events and dates, a profusion 
of legal authorities, a prophetic glance of his eyes into 
futurity, and a rapid torrent of tempestuous eloquence, he 
hurried away all before him. Then and there was the first 
scene of the first act of opposition to the arbitrary claims 
of Great Britain. Then and there the child Independence 
was born. Every man of an immense crowded audience 
appeared to me to go away as I did, ready to take up arms 
against Writs of Assistance." 

The youth who took notes of the words of Otis, and who 
was inspired by them with the desire to rise and mutiny, 
was destined to play even a greater part in the history of 
his country. If Otis was one of the first to assert actively, 
by deed as well as by word, the determination of the 
colonies to oppose and, if needs were, to defy the domina- 
tion of England, John Adams was the first to applaud his 
action and to appreciate its importance. In 1763 John 
Adams was no more than a promising young lawyer who 
had struggled from poverty and hardship to regard and 
authority, and who had wrested from iron Fortune a great 


deal of learning if very little of worldly wealth. Short 
of stature, sanguine of temperament, the ruddy, stubborn, 
passionate small man had fought his way step by step 
from the most modest if not the most humble beginnings, 
as zealously as if he had known of the fame that was yet 
to be his and the honor that he was to give to his name and 
hand down to a long line of honorable descendants. If the 
ministers who weakly encouraged or meanly obeyed King 
George in his frenzy against America could have under- 
stood even dimly the temper of a race that was rich in 
sons of whom John Adams was but one and not the most 
illustrious even to them, there must have come dimly some 
consciousness of the forces they had to encounter, and the 
peril of their policy. But the Ministry knew nothing of 
Adams, and knew only of Otis as a mutinous and meddle- 
some official. Otis and his protest signified nothing to 
them, and they would have smiled to learn that young Mr. 
Adams, the lawyer, believed that American independence 
was born when Mr. Otis's oration against Writs of Assist- 
ance breathed into the colonies the breath of life that was 
to make them a nation. 

If Otis voiced and Adams echoed the feelings of the 
colonists against Writs of Assistance and the enforcement 
of the Acts of Trade, they might no less eloquently have 
interpreted the general irritation at the proposed estab- 
lishment of a permanent garrison on the continent. The 
colonists saw no need of such a garrison so late in the day. 
When the Frenchmen held the field, when the red man was 
on the war path, then indeed the presence of more British 
soldiers might have become welcome. But the flag of 
France no longer floated over strong places, no longer flut- 
tered at the head of invasion. The strength of the savage 
was crippled if not crushed. The colonists had nothing 
to fear from the one and little to fear from the other foe. 
They thought that they had much to fear from the pres- 
ence of a British garrison of ten thousand men. This 
British garrison might, on occasion, be used not in defence 
of their liberties, but in diminution of their liberties. The 
irritation against the proposed garrison might have smoul- 


dered out if it had not been fanned into a leaping flame 
by the means proposed for the maintenance of the garrison. 
Grenville proposed to raise one-third of the cost of support 
from the colonies by taxation. No proposal could have 
been better calculated to goad every colony and every col- 
onist into resistance, and to fuse the scattered elements of 
resistance into a solid whole. More than two generations 
earlier both Massachusetts and New York had formally 
denied the right of the Home Government to levy any tax 
upon the American colonies. The colonies were not rep- 
resented at Westminster — could not, under the conditions, 
be represented at Westminster. The theory that there 
should be no taxation without representation was as dear 
to the American for America as it was dear to the Eng- 
lishman for England. Successive English Governments, 
forced in times of financial pressure wistfully to eye 
American prosperity, had dreamed, and only dreamed, of 
raising money by taxing the well-to-do colonies. It was re- 
served to the Government headed by Grenville, in its mad- 
ness, to attempt to make the dream a reality. It is true 
that even Grenville did not propose, did not venture to 
suggest that the American colonies should be taxed for 
the direct benefit of the English Government. He brought 
forward his scheme of taxation as a benefit to America, 
as a contribution to the expense of keeping up a garrison 
that was only established in the interests of America and 
for America's welfare. In this spirit of benevolence, and 
with apparent confidence of success, Grenville brought for- 
ward his famous Stamp Act. 

There were statesmen in England who saw with scarcely 
less indignation than the Americans themselves, and with 
even more dismay, the unfolding of the colonial policy 
of the Government. These protested against the intoler- 
able weight of the duties imposed, and arraigned the folly 
which, by compelling these duties to be paid in specie, 
drained away the little ready money remaining in the 
colonies, " as though the best way to cure an emaciated 
body, whose juices happened to be tainted, was to leave it 
no juices at all." They assailed the injustice that refused 


to recognize as legal tender any paper bills of credit issued 
by the colonies. Politicians, guided by the intelligence 
and the inspiration of Burke, applauded the Americans 
for their firmness in resolving to subsist to the utmost of 
their power upon their own productions and manufactures. 
They urged that it could not be expected that the colonists, 
merely out of a compliment to the mother country, should 
submit to perish for thirst with water in their own wells. 
And these clear-sighted politicians saw plainly enough that 
such blows as the Government were aiming at America 
must in the end recoil upon Great Britain herself. They 
appreciated the injury that must be done to British com- 
merce by even a temporary interruption of the intercourse 
between the two countries. But bad as the restrictive 
measures were in their immediate, as well as in their ulti- 
mate consequences, worse remained behind. The proposed 
Stamp Act scarcely shocked Otis or Adams more directly 
and cruelly than it shocked the soundest and sanest think- 
ers on the other side of the Atlantic. Words which cer- 
tainly expressed the thoughts of Burke declared that the 
approval, even with opposition, given to such a measure 
as the Stamp Act, the bare proposal of which had given 
so much offence, argued such a want of reflection as could 
scarcely be paralleled in the public councils of any country. 
The King's speech at the opening of Parliament on 
January 10, 1765, gave unmistakable evidence of the 
temper of the monarch and of the Ministry. It formally 
expressed its reliance on the wisdom and firmness of Par- 
liament in promoting the proper respect and obedience due 
to the legislative authority of Great Britain. The Govern- 
ment was resolved to be what it considered firm, and it un- 
doubtedly believed that a proper show of firmness would 
easily overbear any opposition that the colonists might 
make to the proposed measure. The Stamp Act was in- 
troduced, the Stamp Act w^as debated upon; in due time 
the Stamp Act passed through both Houses, and in con- 
sequence of the ill health of the King received the royal 
assent by commission on March 22, 1765. The first foolish 
challenge to American loyalty was formally made, and 

1765. SAMUEL ADAMS. 89 

America was not slow to accept it. It may be admitted that 
in itself the Stamp Act was not a conspicuously unfair or 
even a conspicuous^ unreasonable measure. It was a 
legitimate and perfectly fair way of raising money from 
a taxable people. It was neither legitimate nor fair when 
imposed upon unrepresented colonists. But if it had been 
the sanest and most statesmanlike scheme for raising 
money ever conceived by a financier, it would have de- 
served and would have received no less hostility from the 
American people. The principle involved was everything. 
To admit in any degree the right of Great Britain to im- 
pose at her pleasure a tax upon the colonists was to sur- 
render in ignominy the privileges and to betray the duties 
of free men. Any expectations of colonial protest that the 
Ministry may have allowed themselves to entertain were 
more than fulfilled. Colony after colony, great town after 
great town, great man after great man, made haste to pro- 
test with an emphasis that should have been significant 
against the new measure. Boston led the way. Boston's 
most distinguished citizen, Boston's most respected son 
was the voice not merely of his town, not merely of his 
State, but of the colonial continent. Ten years later the 
name of Samuel Adams was known, hated, and honored 
on the English side of the Atlantic. 

Samuel Adams was one of those men whom Nature 
forges to be the instruments of revolution. His three-and- 
forty years had taught him much: the value of silence, 
the knowledge of men, the desire to change the world and 
the patience to bide his time. A few generations earlier 
he might have made a right-hand man to Cromwell and 
held a place in the heart of Hampden. On the very 
threshold of his manhood, when receiving his degree of 
Master of Arts at Plarvard, he asserted his defiant democ- 
racy in a dissertation on the right of the people of a com- 
monwealth to combine against injustice on the part of the 
head of the State. The badly dressed man with the grave 
firm face of a Pilgrim Father was as ready and as resolute 
to oppose King George as any Pym or Vane had been ready 
and resolute to oppose Charles Stuart. He had at one 


time devoted himself to a commercial career, with no great 
success. He was made for a greater game than commerce ; 
he had the temper and he gained the training for a public 
life, and the hour when it came found that the man was 
ready. When the citizens of Boston met to protest against 
the Stamp Act Samuel Adams framed the first resolutions 
that denied to the Parliament of Great Britain the right 
to impose taxes upon her colonies. 

If Massachusetts was the first to protest with no uncer- 
tain voice against the Stamp Act, other colonies were 
prompt to follow her example, and to prove that they pos- 
sessed sons no less patriotic. Virginia was as vehement 
and as vigorous in opposition as Massachusetts. One 
speech in the Virginia House of Burgesses made the name 
of Patrick Henry famous. Patrick Henry was a young 
man who tried many things and failed in them before he 
found in the practice of the law the appointed task for 
his rare gifts of reasoning and of eloquence. A speech in 
Hanover Court House in defence of the people against a 
suit of the parish clergy gave him sudden fame. As grave 
of face as Samuel Adams, as careless of his attire, tall and 
lean, stamped with the seal of the speaker and the thinker, 
Patrick Henry at nine-and-twenty was already a very dif- 
ferent man from the youth who five years earlier seemed 
destined to be but a Jack of all trades and master of none, 
an unsuccessful trader, an unsuccessful farmer, whose 
chief accomplishments in life were hunting and fishing, 
dancing and riding. The debate on the Stamp Act gave 
him a great opportunity. As he addressed his words of 
warning to the stubborn sovereign across the sea his pas- 
sion seemed to get the better of his prudence and to tempt 
him into menace. " Caesar," he said, " had his Brutus, 
Charles the First his Cromwell." He was going on to say 
" and George the Third," when he was interrupted by 
a,ngry cries of " Treason !" from the loyalists among his 
hearers. Patrick Henry waited until the noise subsided, 
and then quietly completed his sentence, " George the 
Third may profit by their example. If this be treason, 
make the most of it." The words were not treasonable. 


but they were revolutionary. They served to carry the 
name of Patrick Henry to every corner of the continent 
and across the Atlantic. They made him a hero and idol 
in the eyes of the colonists; they made him a rebel in the 
eyes of the Court at St. James's. 

Massachusetts had set an example which Virginia had 
bettered; Massachusetts was now to better Virginia. If 
Virginia, prompted by Patrick Henry, declared that she 
alone had the right to tax her own citizens, Massachusetts, 
inspired by James Otis, summoned a congress of deputies 
from all the colonial assemblies to meet in common con- 
sultation upon the common danger. This congress, the 
first but not the last, memorable but not most memorable, 
met in Xew York in the early November of 1765. Xine 
colonies were represented at its table — Massachusetts, 
South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, 
Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. The 
congress passed a series of resolutions, as firm in their 
purpose as moderate in their language, putting forward 
the grievances and asserting the rights of the colonies. 

But the protests against the Stamp Act were not limited 
to eloquent orations or formal resolutions. Deeds, as well 
as words, made plain the purpose of the American people. 
Riots broke out in colony after colony ; the most and worst 
in Massachusetts. Boston blazed into open revolt against 
authority. There were two Government officials in Bos- 
ton who were especially unpopular with the mob — Andrew 
Oliver, the newly appointed collector of the stamp taxes, 
and Chief Justice Hutchinson. A scarecrow puppet, in- 
tended to represent the obnoxious Oliver, was publicly 
hung upon a tree by the mob, then cut down, triumphantly 
paraded through the city to Oliver's door, and there set 
on fire. When the sham Oliver was ashes the crowd broke 
into and ransacked his house, after which it did the same 
turn to the house of Chief Justice Hutchinson. Oliver 
and Hutchinson escaped unhurt, but all their property 
went through their broken windows and lay in ruin upon 
the Boston streets.. Hutchinson was busy upon a History 
of Massachusetts; the manuscript shared the fate of its 


author's chairs and tables, and went with them out into 
the gutter. It was picked up, preserved, and exists to 
this day, its pages blackened with the Boston mud. Many 
jiapers and records of the province which Hutchinson had 
in his care for the purpose of his history were irretrieva- 
blv lost. 

The next day the judges and the bar, assembled in their 
robes at the Boston Court House, were startled by the 
apparition of a haggard man in disordered attire, whom 
they might have been pardoned for failing to recognize as 
their familiar chief justice. In a voice broken with emotion 
Hutchinson apologized to the court for the appearance in 
which he presented himself before it. He and his family 
were destitute ; he himself had no other shirt and no other 
clothes than those he was at that moment wearing. Part 
even of this poor attire he had been obliged to borrow. 
Almost in rags, almost in tears, he solemnly called his 
Maker to witness that he was innocent of the charges that 
had made him obnoxious to the fury of the populace. He 
swore that he never, either directly or indirectly, aided, 
assisted, or supported, or in the least promoted or encour- 
aged the Stamp Act, but on. the contrary did all in his 
power, and strove as much as in him lay, to prevent it. 
TJie court listened to him in melancholy silence and then 
adjourned, " on account of the riotous disorders of the pre- 
vious night and universal confusion of the town," to a 
day nearly two months later. 

It was a thankless privilege to be a stamp officer in those 
stormy hours. Most of the stamp officers were forced to 
resign under pressure which they might well be excused 
for finding sufficiently cogent. In order to make the new 
law a dead letter the colonists resolved that while it was 
in force they would avoid using stamps by substituting 
arbitration for any kind of legal procedure. With a 
people in this temper, there were only two things to be 
done; to meet their wishes, or to annihilate their opposi- 
tion. It is possible that Grenville might have preferred 
to attempt the second alternative, but by this time Gren- 
vi lie's power was at an end. 




The friction between Grenville and the King was rap- 
idly becoming unbearable to George, if not to his minister. 
Georo^e was resolved to be rid of his intolerable tyrant at 
the cost of almost any concession. He was now fully as 
eager to welcome Pitt back to office as he had once been 
hot to drive him out of it. Again Cumberland was called 
in; again Cumberland approached Pitt; again Pitt's will- 
ingness to resume the seals was overborne by the stubborn- 
ness of Temple. The King was in despair. He would 
not endure Grenville and Grenville's bullying sermons 
any longer, and yet it was hard indeed to find any one who 
could take Grenvi lie's place with any chance of carrying 
on Grenville's work. Cumberland had a suggestion to 
make, a desperate remedy for a desperate case. If Pitt 
and the old Whigs were denied to the King, why should 
not the King try the new Whigs and Rockingham? 

The old Whig party, as it had lived and ruled so long, 
had practically ceased to exist. So much the King had 
accomplished. Saint George of Hanover had struck at 
the dragon only to find that, like the monster in the classi- 
cal fable, it took new form and fresh vitality beneath his 
strokes. There was a Whig party that was not essentially 
the party of Pitt, a party which was recruiting its ranks 
with earnest, thoughtful, high-minded, honorable men to 
whom the principles or want of principles which permitted 
the old Whig dominion were as intolerable as they appear 
to a statesman of to-day. At the head of this new develop- 
ment of A\Tiig activity was the man to whom Cumberland 
now turned in the hour of the King's trial, Charles Wat- 
son Wentworth, Marquis of Rockingham. 


Lord Rockingham was one of those ornaments of the 
English senate for the benefit of whose biographers the 
adjective amiable seems especially to have been invented. 
Although the master of a large fortune, while he was still 
a boy of twenty he was deservedly noted for the gravity 
and stillness of his youth, and during a political career 
of one-and-thirty years, if he showed neither commanding 
eloquence nor commanding statesmanship, he did honor 
to the Whig party by his sincere patriotism and irreproach- 
able uprightness of character. If heaven had denied Rock- 
ingham the resplendent gifts that immortalize a Chatham, 
it had given him in full measure of the virtues of patri- 
otism, honesty, integrity, and zeal. The purity of his life, 
the probity of his actions, and the excellence of all his 
public purposes, commended him to the affectionate re- 
gard of all w^ho held that morality was more essential to 
a statesman than eloquence, and that it was better to fail 
with such a man than to succeed with those to whom, for 
the most part, the successes of that day were given. Two 
years before, in 1763, his dislike for the policy of Lord 
Bute had driven him to resign his small office as Lord of 
the Bedchamber, and he carried his scrupulousness so far 
as to resign at the same time his Lord-Lieutenantcy of 

To the delight of the Duke of Cumberland, and to the 
delight of the King, Rockingham consented to form a 
Ministry. With the best will in the world Rockingham 
could not make his Ministry very commanding. It was 
but a makeshift, and not a very brilliant makeshift, but 
at least it served to get rid of Grenville and of Grenville's 
harangues. So long as Grenville was unable to terrorize 
the royal closet with reproaches and reproofs addressed to 
the King, and with menaces aimed at Bute, George was 
quite willing to see Newcastle intrusted with the Privy 
Seal, and Conway made Secretary of State for one de- 
partment, and the Duke of Grafton for the other. But 
the Ministry which the King accepted because he could 
get nothing better, and because he would have welcomed 
something much worse so long as it delivered him from 


Grenville — the Ministry that provoked the derisive pity 
of most of its critics was destined to attain an honorable 
immortality. The heterogeneous group of men who called 
themselves or were called, who believed themselves or 
were believed to be Whigs, had obtained one recruit 
whose name was yet to make the cause he served 
illustrious. Lord Eockingham had many claims to the 
regard of his contemporaries; undoubtedly his greatest 
claim to the regard of posterity lies in the intelligence 
which enabled him to discern the rising genius of a young 
writer, and the wisdom which found a place by his side 
and a seat in the House of Commons for Edmund Burke. 

The history of a nation is often largely the history of 
certain famous men. Great epochs, producing great lead- 
ers, make those leaders essentially the expression of certain 
phases of the thought of their age. The life of Walpole 
is the life of the England of his time because he was so 
intimately bound up with the great movement which 
ended by setting Parliamentary government free from the 
possible dominion of the sovereign. The life of Chatham, 
the life of Pitt, the life of Fox, each in its turn is a sum- 
mary of the history of England during the time in which 
they helped to guide its destinies. But to some men, men 
possessing in an exceptional degree the love for humanity 
and the longing for progress, this power of representing 
in their lives the sum and purpose of their age is markedly 
characteristic. Just as Mirabeau, until he died, practically 
represented the French Eevolution, so certain English 
statesmen have from time to time been representative of 
the best life, the best thought, the best purposes, desires, 
and ambitions of the country for whose sake they played 
their parts. Of no man can this theory be said to be more 
happily true than of Edmund Burke. 

It would scarcely be exaggeration to say that the history 
of England during the middle third of the eighteenth 
century is largely the history of the career of Edmund 
Burke. From the moment when Burke entered upon po- 
litical life to the close of his great career, his name was 
associated with every event of importance, his voice raised 


on one side or the other of every question that concerned 
the welfare of the English people and the English Consti- 
tution. As much as this, however, might be said of more 
than one actor in the political history of the period cov- 
ered by Burke's public life. But the influence which Burke 
exercised upon his time, the force he brought to bear upon 
his political generation, were a greater influence and a 
stronger force than that directed by any other statesman 
of the age. Whether for good or for evil, according to the 
standards by which his critics may judge him, Burke 
swayed the minds of masses of his countrymen to a degree 
that was unequalled among his contemporaries. With the 
two great events of the century — the revolt of the Ameri- 
can colonies and the French Revolution — his name was 
the most intimately associated, his influence the most 
potent. With what in their degree must be called the 
minor events of the reign — with the trial of Wilkes, with 
the trial of Warren Hastings — he was no less intimately 
associated, and in each case his association has been the 
most important feature of the event. Where he was right 
as where he was wrong, and whether he was right or 
whether he was wrong, he was always the most interesting, 
always the most commanding figure in the epoch-making 
political controversies of his day. Grenville wrote of him 
finely, many years after his death, that he was in the 
political world what Shakespeare was in the moral world. 
Burke entered political life, or entered active political 
life, when he was returned to Parliament in the December 
of 1765. Up to that time his life had been largely un- 
eventful; much of it must be called as far as we are con- 
cerned eventless, for of a great gap of his life, a gap of 
no less than nine years, we know, if not absolutely nothing, 
certainly next to nothing. It is not even quite certain 
where or when he was born. The most approved account 
is that he was born in Dublin on January 12, 1729, reck- 
oning according to the new style. . The place of his birth 
is still pointed out to the curious in Dublin: one of the 
many modest houses that line the left bank of the Liffey. 
His family was supposed to stem from Limerick, from 

1729-59. BURKE'S EARLY LIFE. 97 

namesakes who spelled their name differently as Bonrke. 
His mother's family were Catholic ; Burke's mother always 
remained stanch to her native faith, and, though Burke 
and his brothers were brought up as the Protestant sons 
of a Protestant father, the influence of his mother must 
have counted for much in creating that tender and gener- 
ous sympathy towards a proscribed creed which is one of 
the noblest characteristics of Burke's career. 

Burke's earliest and in a sense his best education was 
received between his twelfth and fourteenth years, in the 
school of a Yorkshire Quaker named Abraham Shackleton, 
who kept a school at Ballitore. Burke used often to de- 
clare in later years that he owed everything he had gained 
in life to the teaching and the example of those two years 
with Abraham Shackleton. The affectionate regard which 
Burke felt for his schoolmaster, an affectionate regard 
which endured until Shackleton's death, thirty years later, 
in 1771, he felt also for his schoolmaster's son, Eichard 
Shackleton. Most of what we know of Burke's life in 
Trinity College from 1743 to 1748 we gather from his 
letters to Richard Shackleton, letters of absorbing interest 
to any student of the growth of a great mind. Less viva- 
cious, less brilliant than the boyish letters of Goethe, they 
resemble them in the eager thirst they display for knowl- 
edge of all kinds, in their passionate enthusiasm for all 
the rich varieties of human knowledge, in their restless 
experiments in all directions. In those younger days Burke 
thought himself, as every generous and ambitious youth 
must needs think himself, a poet, and many verses were 
forwarded to the faithful friend, to lighten the effect of 
serious theological discussions and elaborate comparisons 
of classical authors. 

Dissensions with his father and a determination to study 
for the bar sent Burke to England in the early part of 
1750, and there for nine long years he practically disap- 
pears from our knowledge. All we know is that he studied 
law, but that, like many another law student, he gave more 
time and thought to literature than to his legal studies; 
that this action deepened the hostility of his father, who 

VOL. ni. — 4 


reduced Burke's allowance to a pittance, and that his daily 
need as well as his desire drove Burke to seek his livelihood 
in letters. 

He seems to have had a hard fight for it. The glimpses 
we get of him during that period of youthful struggle 
show him as an ardent student of books, but a no less 
ardent student of life, not merely in the streets and clubs 
and theatres of tlie great city, but in the seclusion of quiet 
country villages and the highways and byways of rural 
England. Romance has not failed to endeavor to illumi- 
nate with her prismatic lantern the darkness of those nine 
mysterious years. A vivid fancy has been pleased to pic- 
ture Burke as one of the many lovers of the marvellous 
^largaret Wothngton, as a competitor for the chair of 
]\roral Philosophy at Glasgow, as a convert to the Catholic 
faith, and, perhaps most remarkable of all these lively 
legends, as a traveller in America. These are fictions. 
The certain facts are that somewhere about 1756 he mar- 
ried a ^liss Nugent, daughter of an Irish physician who 
had settled in England. Miss Nugent was a Catholic, and 
thus, for the second time, the Catholic religion was en- 
deared to Burke by one of the closest of human relation- 
ships. At about the same time as his marriage, Burke 
made his first appearance as an author by the " Vindication 
of Natural Society," a satire upon Bolingbroke which many 
accepted as a genuine w^ork of Bolingbroke's, and by 
the "Essay on the Sublime and the Beautiful,'' which 
is perhaps most valuable because we owe to it in some de- 
gree the later masterpiece of aesthetic criticism, the 
''- Laocoon " of Lessing. From this time until his con- 
nection wdth public life began his career was linked with 
Fleet Street and its brotherhood of authors, and his pen 
was steadily employed. With that love for variety of sub- 
ject which is characteristic of most of the authors of the 
eighteenth century, he handled a number of widely differ- 
ing themes. He wrote " Hints for an Essay on the 
Drama," a work which has scarcely held its place in the 
library of the dramatist by the side of the " Paradoxe sur 
le Comedien" of Diderot, or the " Hamburgische 


Dramaturgie " of Lessiug. He wrote an account of the 
European settlements in America, still interesting as show- 
ing the early and intimate connection of his thoughts with 
the greatest of English colonies. He wrote an " Abridg- 
ment of English History/^ which carries unfortunately 
no farther than the reign of John a narrative that is not 
unworthy of its author. He founded the " Annual Regis- 
ter/^ and was in its pages for many years to come the his- 
torian of contemporary Europe. Of all the many debts 
that Englishmen owe to Burke, the conception and incep- 
tion of the " Annual Register " must not be reckoned as 
among the least important. 

It was at this point in his career that Burke's connection 
with public life began, not to end thenceforward until the 
end of his own life. Single-speech Hamilton, so called 
because out of a multitude of speeches he made one mag- 
nificent speech, was attracted to Burke by the fame of the 
'• Vindication of Xatural Society,'^ sought his acquaint- 
ance, and when Hamilton went to Ireland as secretary to 
Lord Halifax, Burke accompanied him. For two years 
Burke remained with Hamilton in Ireland, studying the 
Irish question of that day, with the closeness of the 
acutest mind then at work and with the racial sympathy 
of the native. Then he quarrelled, and rightly quarrelled, 
with Hamilton, because Hamilton, to whom the aid of 
Burke was infinitely precious, sought to bind Burke 
foreyer to his service by a pension of three hundred a 
year. Burke demanded some leisure for the literature 
that had made his name. Hamilton justified Leland's 
description of him as a selfish, canker-hearted, envious 
reptile by refusing. Burke, who always spoke his mind 
roundly, described Hamilton as an infamous scoundrel, 
flung back his pension and returned to freedom, independ- 
ence, and poverty. But he was soon to enter the service 
of another statesman under less galling terms, under less 
unreasonable conditions. 

Burke's name was brought before Lord Rockingham, 
probably by Burke's friend and namesake, though in all 
likelihood not kinsman, William Burke. Lord Rocking- 


lunii appointed Burke his private secretary, and by the 
simple integrity of his character bound Burke, to use his 
own words, " by an inviolable attachment to him from that 
time forward." But the alliance thus begun was threat- 
ened in its birth. A mysterious hostility attributed by 
Burke to " Hell-Kite " Hamilton brought certain charges 
to the notice of the Duke of Newcastle. The Duke of New- 
castle hurried to Lord Rockingham to warn him that his 
newly appointed secretary was a disguised Jesuit, a dis- 
guised Jacobite. Lord Rockingham immediately com- 
municated these accusations to Burke, who repelled them 
with a firmness and dignity which had the effect only of 
confirming Lord Rockingham's admiration of Burke and 
of drawing closer the friendship of the two men. Burke 
was promptly brought into Parliament as member for 
Wendover, and during the single year which Lord Rock- 
ingham's Administration lasted its leader had every reason 
to rejoice at the happy chance which had given to him 
such a follower and such an ally. 

Burke delivered his maiden speech in the House of 
Commons on January 27, 1766, a few days after the open- 
ing of the session, on the subject of the dissatisfaction in 
the American colonies. His speech won the praise of the 
Great Commoner; his succeeding speeches earned him en- 
thusiastic commendation from friends and admirers out- 
side and inside the House of Commons. The successful 
man of letters had proved himself rapidly to be a success- 
ful orator and a politician who would have to be reckoned 

It has been contended, and not unreasonably, that as 
an orator Burke is not merely in the first rank, but that 
he is himself the first, that he stands alone, without a 
rival, without a peer, and that none of the orators of 
antiquity can be said even to contest his unquestionable 
supremacy. But it is in no sense necessary to Burke's 
fame that the fame of others should be in any way im- 
pugned or depreciated. It is sufficient praise to say that 
Burke is one of the greatest orators the world has ever 
held. To argue that he is superior to Demosthenes on the 


one hand, or to Cicero on the other, is to maintain an argu- 
ment very much on a par with that which it amused Burke 
himself to maintain when he contended for the 
superiority of the " Aeneid " over the " Iliad." It is quite 
enough to be able to say well-nigh without fear of con- 
tradiction that Burke is probably the greatest orator who 
ever spoke in the English language. 

Burke's political career began brilliantly in the cham- 
pionship of freedom, in the defence of the oppressed, in 
the defiance of injustice. He was made welcome to the 
great political arena in which he was to fight so long and 
so hard. His ability was recognized at once; he may be 
said to have leaped into a fame that the passage of time 
has not merely confirmed but increased. No author more 
profoundly infiuenced the thought of his time; no author 
of that time is likely to exercise a more enduring influence 
upon succeeding generations. Of all the men of that 
busy and brilliant age, Burke has advanced the most stead- 
ily in the general knowledge and favor. While other men, 
his rivals in eloquence, his peers in the opinions of his con- 
temporaries, come year by year to be less used as influences 
and appealed to as authorities, the wisdom of Burke is 
more frequently drawn upon and more widely appreciated 
than ever. The world sees now, even more clearly than the 
world saw then, that whether Burke was right or wrong 
in his conclusions as to any question, it had to be admitted 
that the point of view from which he started to get at that 
conclusion was the correct one. 




That the colonies were not well understood in England 
was no fault of the colonists. There was at that time and 
hour in England a man specially authorized to speak on 
behalf of the colony of Pennsylvania, and indirectly en- 
titled as he was admirably qualified to represent the other 
colonies. At that time Benjamin Franklin was the most 
distinguished American living and the most distinguished 
American who had ever lived. It was not his first visit 
to England. He had crossed the Atlantic forty years be- 
fore when he was a youth of eighteen, eager to set up for 
himself as a master printer, and anxious to obtain the ma- 
terials for his trade in the old country. In those eighteen 
3^ears he had learned many things. He had learned how 
to print; he had learned how to bear poverty with courage 
and ambition with patience; he could never remember a 
time when he was unable to read, but he had learned how 
to read with inexhaustible pleasure and unfailing profit, 
and he had learned how to write. When he was seventeen 
he had run away from his birthplace, Boston, and the home 
of an ill-tempered brother, and made his way as best he 
might to Philadelphia. As he tramped into the city with 
a loaf under each arm for provender, a young woman lean- 
ing in a doorway laughed at the singular figure. Six years 
later she married Franklin, who in the interval had been 
a journeyman printer in Philadelphia, a journeyman 
printer in London, and had at last been able to set up for 
himself in Philadelphia. From 1729 the story of Frank- 
lin's life is the story of a steady and splendid advance in 
popularity and wealth, and in the greater gifts of knowl- 
edge, wisdom, and humanity. He published a newspaper, 


the Philadelphia Gazette; he disseminated frugality, thrift, 
industry, and the cheerful virtues in " Poor Eichard's 
Almanack;" he was the benefactor and the blessing of 
the city of his adoption. He founded her famous library; 
he devoted the results of his scientific studies to her com- 
fort, welfare, and comeliness; he maintained her defences 
as a military engineer, and was prepared to serve her gal- 
lantly in the field against the Indians as a colonel of 
Militia of his own raising. N^o man ever lived a fuller life 
0]" did so many things with more indomitable zeal or more 
honorable thoroughness. colony of Pennsylvania was 
very proud of her illustrious citizen and delighted to do 
him honor. ^Vhen he visited England for the second time, 
in 1757, he was the Agent for the General Assembly of 
Pennsylvania, he was Deputy Postmaster-General for the 
British colonies, he was famous throughout the civilized 
world for his discovery of the identity of lightning with 
the electric fluid. He was in London for the third time 
when Kockingham took office. He had lived nearly sixty 
years of a crowded, memorable, admirable life; he was 
loaded with laurels, ripe in the learning of books and the 
learning of the book of the world. Even he whom few 
things surprised or took unawares would have been sur- 
prised if he could have been told that the life he had lived 
was eventless, bloodless, purposeless in comparison with 
the life he had yet to live, and that all he had done for his 
country was but as dust in the balance when weighed 
against the work he was yet to do for her. He was stand- 
ing on the threshold of his new career in the year when 
Edmund Burke entered Parliament. 

The Kockingham Administration did its best to undo 
the folly of Grenville's Government. After long debates 
in both Houses, after examination of Franklin at the bar 
of the Commons, after the strength and acumen of Mans- 
field had been employed to sustain the prerogative against 
the colonies and the voice of Burke had championed the 
colonies against the prerogative, after Grenville had de- 
fended himself with shrewdness and Pitt had added to 
the splendor of his fame, the Stamp Act was formally re- 


pealed. Unhappily, the new Ministry was only permitted 
to do good by halves. The same session that repealed the 
Stamp Act promulgated the Declaratory Act, asserting 
the full power of the King, on the advice of Parliament, 
to make laws binding the American colonies in all cases 
whatsoever. This desperate attempt to assert what the 
repeal of the Stamp Act virtually surrendered was intended 
as a solace to the King and as a warning — perhaps a 
friendly warning — to the colonies. Those who were most 
opposed to it in England may well have hoped that it 
might be accepted without too much straining in the 
general satisfaction caused by the repeal of the hated 
measure. Even Franklin seemed to believe that the De- 
claratory Act would not cause much trouble in America. 
The event denied the hope, and indignation at the Declara- 
tory Act outlasted in America the rejoicing over the sub- 
version of Grenville's policy. Nevertheless, the rejoicing 
was very great. On May 16, 1766, the public spirit of 
Boston was stimulated by the distribution of a broadsheet 
headed " Glorious Ncws.^' This broadsheet announced 
the arrival of John Hancock's brig " Harrison," in six 
weeks and two days from London, with the important tid- 
ings of the repeal of the Stamp Act. The broadsheet 
painted a lively picture of the enthusiasm at Westminster 
and the rejoicings in the City of London over the total 
repeal of the measure. It told of the ships in the river 
displaying all their colors, of illuminations and bonfires 
in many parts; "in short, the rejoicings were as great as 
was ever known on any occasion." This broadsheet, 
^' printed for the benefit of the public," ended in a rapture 
of delight. " It is impossible to express the joy the town 
is now in, on receiving the above great, glorious, and im- 
portant news. The bells on all the churches were immedi- 
ately set a-ringing, and we hear the day for a general re- 
joicing will be the beginning of next week." Boston 
had every reason to rejoice, to ring its bells and fly its 
flags, and set poor debtors free from prison in honor of 
the occasion. The colonies had stood together against 
the Home Government, and had learned something of 


the strength of their union by the repeal of the Stamp 

But when. the bells had stopped ringing and the flags 
were hauled down and the released debtors had ceased to 
congratulate themselves upon their newly recovered lib- 
erty, Boston and the other colonial cities found that their 
satisfaction was not untempered. The broadsheet that had 
blazoned the repeal had also assured its readers that the 
Acts of Trade relating to America would be taken under 
consideration and all grievances removed. " The friends 
to America are very powerful and disposed to assist us to 
the best of their ability." The friends to America were 
powerful, but they fought against tremendous odds. Dul- 
ness and mediocrity, a spite that was always stupid, and 
a stupidity that was often spiteful, an alliance of igno- 
rance and arrogance were the forces against which they 
struggled in vain. The Acts of Trade were to be enforced 
as rigidly as ever. The Declaratory Act pompously as- 
serted the unimpeachable prerogative of British Majesty 
to make what laws it pleased for the colonies. The good 
that had been done seemed small in comparison with the 
harm that might yet be done, that in all probability would 
1je done. 

For the time more was to be feared from the viceroys 
of the provinces than from the Home Government. Mr. 
Secretary Conway addressed a circular letter to the govern- 
ors of the ditferent colonies, reproving the colonists, in- 
deed, for the recent disturbances, but with a measured 
mildness of reproof that seemed carefully calculated not 
to give needless offence or cause unnecessary irritation. 
" If by lenient persuasive methods," Conway wrote, " you 
can contribute to restore the peace and tranquillity to the 
provinces on which their welfare and happiness depend, 
you will do a most acceptable and essential service to your 
country." An appeal so suave, advice so judicious, did 
not seem the less prudent and humane because the Secre- 
tary insisted upon the repression of violence and outrage 
and reminded those to whom his letter was addressed that 
if thev needed aid in the maintenance of law and order 


tliey were to require it at tlie hands of the commanders of 
his j\rajesty's hind and naval forces in America. If all 
the gentlemen to whom the Secretary's circular was ad- 
dressed had been as reasonable and as restrained in lan- 
guage as its writer, things might even then have turned 
out very differently. It was not to be expected, and the 
colonists did not expect, that outrage and violence were to 
go unchallenged and unpunished, and it is probable that 
few even in Massachusetts w^ould have objected to the 
formal expression of thanks for firmness and zeal w^hich 
was made by Conway to the governor of that colony. But 
the temperance that was possible to Conway was impossi- 
ble to Bernard. Bernard was one of the worst of a long 
line of inappropriate colonial governors. He was a hot- 
headed, hot-hearted man who seemed to think that to play 
the part of a domineering, blustering bully was to show 
discretion and discernment in the duties of his office. He 
always acted under the conviction that he must always be 
in the right and every one else always in the wrong, and he 
blazed up into fantastic rages at the slightest show of 
opposition. As this was not the spirit in which to deal 
with the proud and independent men of Massachusetts, 
Governor Bernard passed the better part of his life in a 
passion and w^as forever quarrelling with his provincial 
legislature and forever complaining to the Home Govern- 
ment of his hard lot and of the mischievous, mutinous set 
of fellows he had to deal with. 

When Bernard received the Secretary's letters and the 
accompanying copies of the two Bills that had been passed 
by the British Parliament, he hastened to make them 
kno^\Ti to the Assembly of Massachusetts. But he made 
them known in a speech that was wholly lacking in either 
temperance or discretion. Had it been at once his desire 
and his duty to inflame his hearers against himself and 
the Government w^hich he represented he could hardly have 
chosen words more admirably adapted for the purpose. 
With a wholly unchastened arrogance and a wholly un- 
governed truculence, the governor of the province lectured 
or rather hectored the gentlemen of the Council and the 


gentlemen of the House of Representatives after a fashion 
that would have seemed in questionable taste on the part 
of an old-fashioned pedagogue to a parcel of unruly school- 
boys. He was for bullying and blustering them into a 
better behavior, and he assured those who were willing to 
make amends and to promise to be good in the future that 
their past offences would be buried in a charitable oblivion. 
" Too ready a forgetfulness of injuries hath been said to 
be my weakness," Bernard urged with strange igno- 
rance. " However, it is a failing which I had rather suffer 
by than be without." 

The House of Eepresentatives replied to the reproofs of 
their governor in an address that was remarkable for the 
firmness with which it maintained its own position and 
the irony with which it reviewed the governor's preten- 
sions. To prove their independence of action, they delayed 
the Act of Indemnity demanded by Secretary Conway for 
several months, and then accompanied it with a general 
pardon to all persons who had been concerned in the riots 
provoked by the Stamp Act. Though this Act was prompt- 
ly disallowed by the Home Government on the ground that 
the power of pardon belonged exclusively to the Crown, 
it took effect nevertheless, and added another to the griev- 
ances of Bernard and of his backers in England. 

The slowly widening breach between the American colo- 
nies and the mother country might even yet have been 
filled if it had been possible for the King to depend upon 
the services and listen to the advice of ministers whose 
good intentions and general good sense had the advantage 
of being served and indirectly inspired by the genius of 
Burke. But unhappily, the fortunes of the party with 
whom he was allied were not long fated to be official fort- 
unes. After a vear of honorable if somewhat colorless 
existence, the Rockingham Administration came to an end. 
There was no particular reason why it should come to an 
end, but the King was weary of it. If it had not gravely 
dissatisfied him, it had afforded him no grave satisfaction. 
An Administration always seemed to George the Third like 
a candle which he could illuminate or extinguish at his 

108 A HISTORY OF THE FOUli GEORGES. ch. xlviii. 

pleasure. So he blew out the Rockingham Administration 
and turned to Pitt for a new one. In point of fact, an 
Administration without Pitt was an impossibility. The 
Duke of Grafton had resigned his place in the Rockingham 
Ministry because he believed it hopeless to go on without 
the adhesion of Pitt, and Pitt would not adhere to the 
Rockingham Ministry. Now, with a free hand, he set to 
work to form one of the most amazing Administrations 
that an age which knew many strange Administrations 
can boast of. 

The malady which had for so long martyrized the great 
statesman had afflicted him heavily of late. His eccentric- 
ities had increased to such a degree that they could hardly 
be called merely eccentricities. But though he suffered in 
mind and in body he was ready and even eager to return 
to power, so long as that power was absolute. By this 
time he had quarrelled with Temple, who had so often 
hindered him from resuming office, and who was now as 
hostile to him as his brother, George Grenville, had ever 
been. Temple, in consequence, found no place in the new 
Administration. The Administration was especially de- 
signed to please the King. A party had grown up in the 
State which was known by the title of the King's friends. 
The King's friends had no political creed, no political con- 
victions, no desire, no ambition, and no purpose save to 
please the King. What the King wanted said they would 
say; what the King wanted done they would do; their 
votes were unquestionably and unhesitatingly at the King's 
command. They did not, indeed, act from an invincible 
loyalty to the royal person. It was the royal purse that 
ruled them. The King was the fountain of patronage; 
wealth and honors flowed from him; and the wealth and 
the honors welded the King's friends together into a har- 
monious and formidable whole. The King's friends found 
themselves well represented in a Ministry that was other- 
wise as much a thing of shreds and patches as a harlequin's 
coat. Pitt had tried to make a chemical combination, but 
he only succeeded in making a mixture that might at any 
time dissolve into its component parts. It was composed 


of men of all parties and all principles. The amiable Con- 
way and the unamiable Grafton remained on from Kock- 
ingham's Ministry. So did the Duke of Portland and 
Lord Bessborough, so did Saunders and Keppel. Pitt did 
not forget his own followers. He gave the Great Seal to 
Lord Camden, who, as Justice Pratt, had liberated Wilkes 
from unjustifiable arrest. He made Lord Shelburne one 
of the Secretaries of State. The Chancellorship of the 
Exchequer was given to a politician with a passion for 
popularity that made him as steadfast as a weathercock, 
Charles Townshend. 

By this time Pitt was no longer the Great Commoner. 
The House of Commons was to know him no more. Under 
the title of Earl of Chatham he had entered the Upper 
Plouse. Such an elevation did not mean then, as it came 
later to mean, something little better than political ex- 
tinction. But Pitt's elevation meant to him a loss of popu- 
larity as immediate as it was unexpected. Though he was 
no longer young, though he was racked in mind and body, 
though he sorely needed the repose that he might hope to 
find in the Tapper House, he was assailed with as much 
fury of vituperation as if he had betrayed the State. A 
country that was preparing to rejoice at his return to 
power lashed itself into a fury of indignation at his ex- 
altation to the peerage. In the twinkling of an eye men 
who had been devoted yesterday to Pitt were prepared to 
believe every evil of Chatham. His rule began in storm 
and gloom, and gloomy and stormy it remained. The first 
act of his Administration roused the fiercest controversy. 
A bad harvest had raised the price of food almost to famine 
height. Chatham took the bold step of laying an embargo 
on the exportation of grain. The noise of the debates over 
this act had hardly died away when Pitt's malady again 
overmastered him, and once more he disappeared from 
public life into mysterious melancholy silence and seclu- 
sion. It was an unhappy hour for the country which de- 
prived it of the services of Chatham and left the helm of 
state in the hands of Charles Townshend. 

Charles To^^^lshend was the erratic son of a singularly 


erratic mother. The beautiful Audrey Harrison married 
the third Marquis Townshend, bore him five children, and 
then separated from him to carry her beauty, her insolence, 
and her wit through an amazed and amused society. It 
was one of her eccentricities to change her name Audrey 
to Ethelfreda. Another was to fancy herself and to pro- 
claim herself to be very much in love with the unhappy 
Lord Kilmarnock. She attended the trial persistently, 
waited under his windows, quarrelled with Selwyn for 
daring to jest about the execution — no very happy theme 
for wit — and was all for adopting a little boy whom some 
of the officials of the Tower had palmed off upon her as 
Kilmarnock's son. Walpole liked her, delighted in her 
witty, stinging sayings. She was always entertaining, 
always alarming, always ready to say or do anything that 
came into her mind. She lived, a whimsical, spiteful, 
sprightly oddity, to be eighty-seven years of age. Charles 
Townshend was her second son, and Charles Townshend 
was in many ways as whimsical as his mother. He had a 
ready wit, a dexterity in epigram, an astonishing facility 
of speech, and a very great appreciation of his own power 
of turning friends or foes into ridicule. It is told of him 
that once in his youth, when a student at Leyden, he 
suffered from his readiness to jest at the expense of 
another. At a merry supper party he plied one of the 
guests, a seemingly unconscious, stolid Scotchman named 
Johnstone, with sneers and sarcasms which the Scotchman 
seemed to disregard or take in good part. On the next 
morning, however, Townshend's victim, enlightened by 
some friend as to the way in which he had been made a 
butt of, became belligerent and sent Townshend a chal- 
lenge. Various opinions have been expressed of Town- 
shend's action in the matter. He has been applauded for 
good sense. He has been reproached for cowardice. Cer- 
tainly Townshend did not, would not fight his challenger. 
It required a great deal of good sense to decline a duel in 
those days, and Townshend did decline the duel. He 
apologized to his slow-witted but stubborn-purposed op- 
ponent with a profusion of apology which some of his 


friends thought to be excessive. In these days we should 
consider Townshend's refusal to fight a duel merely as an 
unimportant proof of his common-sense, but in the last 
century, in the society in which Townshend moved, and 
on the Continent, such a refusal suggested the possession 
of a degree of common-sense that was far from ordinary — 
that was, indeed, extraordinary. Townshend's tact, wit, and 
good spirits carried him through the scrape somehow. He 
made the rounds of Leyden with his would-be adversary, 
calling in turn upon each of his many friends, and obtain- 
ing from each, in the presence of his companion, the assur- 
ance that Townshend had never been known to speak of 
Johnstone slightingly or discourteously behind his back. 
The episode, trivial in itself, gains a kind of gravity by the 
illustration it affords of Townshend^s character all through 
Townshend's short career. The impossibility of restrain- 
ing an incorrigible tongue, and the unreadiness to follow 
out the course of action to which his words would seem 
to have committed him, were the distinguishing marks of 
Townshend^s political existence. No man, no party, nor 
no friend could count on the unflinching services of Town- 
shend. His conduct was as irresponsible as his eloquence 
was dazzling. In his twenty years of public life he had but 
one purpose — to please and to be praised ; and to gain those 
ends he sacriiiced consistency and discretion with a light 
heart. The beauty of his person and the fluent splendor 
of his speech went far towards the attainment of an ambi- 
tion which was always frustrated by a fatal levity. In the 
fine phrase of Burke, he was a candidate for contradictory 
honors, and his great aim was to make those agree in ad- 
miration of him who never agreed in anything else. 

It has been given to few men to desire fame more 
ardently, and to attain it more disastrously, than Charles 
Townshend. If we may estimate the man by the praises 
of his greatest contemporary, no one better deserved a 
fairer fortune than fate allotted to him. Burke spoke of 
Townshend as the delight and ornament of the House of 
Commons, and the charm of every private society which 
he honored with his presence. Though his passion for 


fame might be immoderate, it was at least a passion which 
is the instinct of all great souls. While Burke could rhap- 
sodize over Townshend's pointed and finished wit, his re- 
fined, exquisite, and penetrating judgment, his skill and 
power in statement, his excellence in luminous explana- 
tion, Walpole was no less enthusiastic in an estimate that 
contrasted Townshend with Burke. According to Walpole, 
Townshend, who studied nothing with accuracy or atten- 
tion, had parts that embraced all knowledge with such 
quickness that he seemed to create knowledge instead of 
seeking for it. Eeady as Walpole admits Burke's wit to 
have been, lie declares that it appeared artificial when set 
b}' that of Townshend, which was so abundant in him 
that it seemed a loss of time to think. Townshend's ut- 
terances had always the fascinating effervescence of spon- 
taneity, while even Burke's extempore utterances were so 
pointed and artfully arranged that they wore the appear- 
ance of study and preparation. This brilliant, resplendent 
creature, in every respect the opposite to George Grenville, 
showv where Grrenville was solid, fluent where he was 
formal, glittering and even glowing where he was sober 
or sombre, fascinating where he was repellent, gracious 
where he was sullen, and polished where he was rude, was 
nevertheless destined to share Grenville's hateful task and 
Grenville's deserved condemnation. Such enthusiasm as 
Parliament had permitted itself to show over the repeal 
of Grenville's Stamp Act had long flickered out. The 
colonists were regarded with more disfavor than ever by 
a majority that raged against their ingratitude and bitterly 
repented the repeal of the Act. Townshend's passion for 
popularity forced him into the fatal blunder of his life. He 
was indeed, as Burke said, the spoiled child of the House 
of Commons, never thinking, acting, or speaking but with 
a view to its judgment, and adapting himself daily to its 
disposition, and adjusting himself before it as before a 
looking-glass. The looking-glass showed him a member 
of a Ministry that was unpopular because it refused to tax 
America. He resolved that the looking-glass should 
show him a member of a Ministry popular be- 


cause it was resolved to tax America. His hunger 
and thirst after popularity, his passion for fame, 
were leading him into strange ways indeed. He was 
to leave after him an enduring name, but enduring for 
reasons that would have broken his bright spirit if he could 
have realized them. The shameful folly of George Gren- 
ville was the shameful folly of Charles Townshend. His 
name stands above Grenville^s in the roll of those who in 
that disastrous time did so much to lower the honor and 
lessen the empire of England. It became plain to Town- 
shend that the Parliamentary majority regretted the repeal 
of the Stamp Act and resented the theory that America 
should not be taxed. Townshend resolved that revenue 
could and should be raised out of America. He intro- 
duced a Bill imposing a tax on glass, paper, and tea upon 
the American colonies. Though the amount to be raised 
was not large, no more than forty thousand pounds, and 
though it was proposed that the whole of the sum should 
be spent in America, it was as mischievous in its result 
as if it had been more malevolently aimed. Townshend 
himself did not live long enough to learn the unhappy con- 
sequences of his folly. A neglected fever proved fatal to 
him in the September of 1767, in the forty- third year of 
his age. Walpole lamented him with an ironical appre- 
ciation. ^' Charles Townshend is dead. All those parts 
and fire are extinguished ; those volatile salts are evapo- 
rated; that first eloquence of the world is dumb; that du- 
plicity is fixed, that cowardice terminated heroically. He 
joked on death as naturally as he used to do on the living, 
and not with the afCectation of philosophers who wind up 
their works with sayings which they hope to have remem- 
bered." Townshend had passed away, but his policy re- 
mained, a fatal legacy to the country. 

Townshend was immediatelv succeeded in the Chan- 
cellorship of the Exchequer by a young politician who had 
been for some years in Parliament and had held several 
offices without conspicuously distinguishing himself. WTien 
Lord North entered the House of Commons as member 
for Banbury, his record was that of any intelligent young 


nobleman of his time. He had written pleasing Latin 
love jjoems at Eton, he had been to Oxford, he had studied 
at Leipzig. George Grenville saw great promise in North. 
He even predicted that if he did not relax in his political 
pursuits he was very likely to become Prime Minister. Un- 
happily for his country, North did not relax in his polit- 
ical pursuits. There was an ironic fitness in the fact that 
North should be admired by Grenville and should succeed 
to Townshend, for no man was better fitted to carry on the 
fatal policy of the two men who had outraged the Ameri- 
can colonies by the Stamp Act and the tax on tea. 




While the King's Government was preparing for itself 
an infinity of trouble a])road, it was not destined to find 
itself idle for want of trouble at home. Great and grave 
trouble came upon the King and his friends suddenly, and 
out of a quarter from which they least expected it. If 
they were confident of anything, they were confident that 
they had dealt the final blow to the audacious demagogue 
who for a time had fluttered the town with the insolences 
of the North Briton. The North Briton had ceased to 
exist. Of the two men whose bitter genius had been its 
breath, Churchill was dead, and Wilkes himself, a fugitive 
and a beggar, drifting from one European capital to 
another, seemed as little to be feared as if he slept by 
ChurchilFs side. The visit of the Commander's statue to 
Don Juan seemed scarcely more out of the course of nat- 
ure to Don Juan's lackey than the reappearance in active 
public life of Wilkes appeared to the King's friends, for 
whom Wilkes had ceased to exist. 

Wilkes had wearied of Continental life. His affection 
for his own country was so earnest and so sincere that, in 
a letter to the Duke of Grafton, he declared his willing- 
ness to bury himself in the obscurity of private life, if he 
were permitted to return unmolested to England. The 
appeal failed to extract a satisfactory reply. The Minis- 
ters would make no terms with their ruined foeman. 
Wilkes then resolved to show that he was not so helpless 
as his enemies appeared to think him. He published in 
1767, in London, a pamphlet, in which he stated his case 
with indignation, but not without dignity. When the 
pamphlet had obtained a wide circulation, Wilkes followed 


it up l)}^ appearing himself in London in the February of 
1768, at the moment of the general election, and announc- 
ing himself as a candidate for Parliament for the City of 
London. The audacity of this step amazed his enemies 
and delighted his friends. If it had been taken a little 
earlier it might have won him the seat. So calm and so 
wise an observer as Franklin, at least, thought that it 
would have done so. As it was, though Wilkes came late 
into the field, and was placed at the bottom of the poll, 
he secured more than twelve hundred votes, and did, in the 
conventional phrase too often used to soothe defeat, gain 
a great moral victory. 

The courage of the outlaw had more than revived all 
the old enthusiasm for him. We know on the authority 
of Burke that the acclamations of joy with which he was 
welcomed by the populace were inconceivable, and that the 
marks of public favor which he received were by no means 
confined to the lower order of the people. Several mer- 
chants and other gentlemen of large property and of con- 
siderable interest openly espoused his cause, and a sub- 
scription was immediately opened in the City for the pay- 
ment of his debts. We know on other authority that in 
an age when betting was the mode the extraordinary bet- 
ting as to Wilkes's success in his desperate enterprise was 
actually organized by a certain number of brokers into 
stock which was quoted on 'Change. Burke ascribes the 
reason for the failure to the open voting. The electors 
were obliged, he said, to record their names, and the con- 
sequences of an opposition to great corporate and commer- 
cial connections were too obvious not to be understood. 

As soon as Wilkes knew of his defeat in the City, he 
struck a vet bolder note for success. He came forward at 
once as a candidate for the County of Middlesex in opposi- 
tion to the established interest of two gentlemen who had 
represented it for several years, who were supported by the 
whole interest of the Court and who had considerable for- 
tunes and great connections in it. But Wilkes, too, had 
powerful abettors. The Duke of Portland was one of his 
most prominent supporters. His old friend Temple sup- 


plied the freehold qualification which was then essential 
for a Parliamentary candidate. Home, the Rector of Brent- 
ford, where the election took place, gave all his great influ- 
ence and all his srifts to the service of Wilkes with the 
same devotion that had formerly animated Churchill. 
Home was not altogether an admirable character, and his 
enthusiasm for Wilkes had hitherto awakened no corre- 
sponding enthusiasm on Wilkes's part. But Home was 
invaluable at a crisis like the Middlesex election. He had 
the eloquence of a sophist; he had the strategy of a tac- 
tician; he was endowed with an unconquerable energy, 
an indomitable determination. He was exceedingly popular 
in his parish; he caught the mood of the popular party, 
and he happened to be on the right side. It would be 
difficult to exaggerate the importance of the services he 
rendered to Wilkes and to the cause of which Wilkes was 
the figurehead by his work in the i\[iddlesex election. 
The zeal of Home, the friendship of Temple, the daring 
of Wilkes carried the day. It was no ordinary victory. 
It was an astonishing triumph. As Burke pointed out. 
the same causes did not operate upon the freeholders at 
large which had prevented the inclinations of the livery 
of London from taking effect in Wilkes's favor, and the 
result of the polling on March 28 w^as that Wilkes was 
returned to Parliament by a prodigious majority. Wilkes 
polled 1290 votes. Mr. George Cooke, the Tory candi- 
date, who had been the representative for eighteen years, 
only scored 827, and Sir W. Beauchamp Procter, the Whig 
candidate, only got 807 votes. 

There was great excitement in London when the result 
of the election was known. It pleased the popular voice 
to insist that every window should be illuminated in honor 
of Wilkes's triumph, and all windows that were not lit up 
were unhesitatingly broken. Those persons who were 
known to be Wilkes's principal opponents received the 
special attentions of the mob. Lord Bute's house had to 
stand a siege; so had the house of Lord Egremont, w^ho 
had signed the warrant for Wilkes's committal; so had 
other houses which were either known to belong to the 


opponents of the hero or showed themselves to be such 
by their darkened windows. All such windows were in- 
stantly broken, to the joy of the glaziers, who declared 
that a Middlesex election was worth any number of Indian 
victories. The mob had it all its own way, for the strength 
of the constabulary had been drafted off to Brentford in 
expectation of rioting there which never took place. But 
the mob did not abuse its triumph. It was in its playful, 
not its dangerous mood. It stopped the carriages of the 
gentry, made the occupants cheer for Wilkes and Liberty, 
scrawled the number Forty-five upon the polished panels, 
broke the glasses, but in the main let the carriage-owners 
go unmolested. The Duke of Northumberland was forced 
to toast the popular favorite in a mug of ale. One ludi- 
crous occurrence very nearly became an international epi- 
sode. The Austrian Ambassador, Count Hatzfeldt, famed 
for his stateliness, for his punctiliousness in ceremonial, 
fell a victim to popular misapprehension. The mob that 
surrounded his coach took him, unhappily, for a Scotch- 
man, either because of his stiffness of demeanor or because 
they could not understand what he was saying. To be 
thought Scotch was a bad thing for any man in the hands 
of a mob that howled for Wilkes, that howled against Bute. 
The Austrian Ambassador was dragged from his carriage 
and held uplifted in sufficiently uncomfortable fashion 
while the magic number Forty-five was chalked upon the 
soles of his shoes. He was no further hurt ; if he had been 
a more prudent man he would have grinned at the mis- 
chance and said no more about it. But he chose to con- 
sider his dignity and the dignity of his empire affronted by 
the follies of a crowd. He lodged a formal complaint 
with the English Government. The English Government 
could do nothing more than express regret with such 
gravity as it could muster. As for the irreverent rogues 
who had laid their hands upon the feet of the representa- 
tive of a friendly State, it was not in the power of the 
Government to punish them. The earth has bubbles as 
the water has, and they were of them. 

For two days the towTi was practically at the mercy of 

1768. WILKES IX PRISON. 119 

the Wilkite mob. The trainbands were called out by the 
Mayor, who was an ardent courtier, but the men of the 
trainbands were, for the most part, no less ardent Wilkites. 
They lent their drums to swell the noise of Wilkes's tri- 
umph; they could not be counted on to lend their muskets 
to the suppression of Wilkes's partisans. Even the regular 
troops were not, it was thought, to be relied upon in the 
emergency. It was said here that certain regimental drum- 
mers had beaten their drums for Wilkes; it was said there 
that soldiers had been heard to declare that they would 
never fire upon the people. 

The fury of the Ministry, and especially the fury of the 
King, flamed high. The King's heat was increased by a 
letter which Wilkes had addressed directly to him on his 
return to England. In this letter Wilkes made a not un- 
dignified appeal for the King's mercy and clemency, com- 
plained of the wicked and deceitful acts of revenge of the 
late Ministry, and assured the sovereign of his zeal and 
attachment to his service. To this letter, naturally, no 
direct reply was made. The form that the King's answer 
took was to insist that all the strength of the Government 
must be used against Wilkes in order that he should be 
driven from that Parliament to which the electors of Mid- 
dlesex had dared to return him. 

In the mean time the force of the law was slowly exerted 
against Wilkes. Wilkes had promised that on the first 
day of the term following his arrival in England he would 
present himself at the Court of King's Bench. He kept 
his promise and surrendered himself on April 20. The 
judges of the King's Bench seem to have been paralyzed 
by the position. It took them a whole week to decide that 
they would refuse Wilkes bail — a whole week, every day, 
every hour of which served to make Wilkes's cause better 
known and Wilkes himself more popular. Wilkes went to 
prison under the most extraordinary circumstances. His 
journey from Westminster to Bishopsgate was more like 
a royal progress than the passage of a criminal and an out- 
law. It was only with the greatest difficulty that Wilkes 
was able to detach himself from the zeal of the populace 


and get quietly into his prison. The prison immediately 
became an object of greater interest than a royal palace. 
Every day it was surrounded by a dense crowd that con- 
sidered itself rewarded for hours of patient waiting if it 
could but get a glimpse of the prisoner's face at a window. 
All this show of enthusiasm exasperated the ministers and 
drove them into the very acts that were best calculated to 
keep the enthusiasm alive. On the day of the opening of 
Parliament, May 10, the Government, under the pretence 
of fearing riot, sent down a detachment of soldiers to guard 
the King's Bench Prison, in St. George's Fields. This 
was in itself a rash step enough, but every circumstance 
attending it only served to make it more rash. As if de- 
liberately to aggravate the popular feeling, the regiment 
chosen for this pretence of keeping the peace was a Scotch 
regiment. At a moment when everything Scotch was in- 
sanely disliked in London such a choice was not likely to 
insure good temper either on the part of the mob or on 
the part of the military. That good temper was not in- 
tended or desired was made plain by a letter written by 
Lord Weymouth, the Secretary of State, to the local magis- 
trate, urging him to make use of the soldiers in any case 
of riot. 

What followed was only what might have been expect- 
ed. The crowd, irritated by the non-appearance of Wilkes, 
still more irritated by the presence of the soldiery, threat- 
ened, or was thought to threaten, an attack upon the 
prison. Angry words were followed by blows; the brawl 
between the mob and the military became a serious con- 
flict. A young man named Allan, who seems to have had 
nothing to do with the scuffle, was killed in a private house 
by some of the soldiers who had forced an entrance in 
pursuit of one of their assailants. Then the Eiot Act 
was read ; the troops fired ; half a dozen of the rioters were 
killed, including one woman, and several others were 

News of this bad business intensified the angry feeling 
against the Government. A Scotch soldier, Donald Mac- 
lean, was put on his trial for the murder of Allan. His 


acquittal caused an indignation which deepened when the 
colonel of the regiment presented him with thirty guineas 
on behalf of the Government. This was taken as an ex- 
ample of the determination of the Crown to silence the 
voice of the people with the weapons of Scotch mercenaries. 
Pamphlets, speeches, sermons, all were employed to stimu- 
late the general agitation and to brand with atrocity the 
conduct of the Ministrv. The tombstone erected over the 
murdered man Allan chronicled his inhuman murder " by 
Scottish detachments from the Army," and quoted from 
Proverbs the words, " Take away the wicked from before 
the King." 

The ministers, on their side, were not slow to defend 
themselves. Burke, with his usual fairness, has stated 
their case for them when he tells how they painted in the 
strongest colors the licentiousness of the rabble and that 
contempt of all government which makes it necessary to 
oppose to a violent distemper remedies not less violent. 
This is, of course, the excuse of every overbearing authority, 
which, having aroused irritation by its own mismanage- 
ment, can conceive of no better way of allaying that irrita- 
tion than the bayonet and the bullet. The Ministry and 
the advocates of the Ministry maintained that the un- 
happy disposition of the people was such that juries under 
the influence of the general infatuation could hardly be 
got to do justice to soldiers under prosecution, unless 
Grovernment interposed in the most effectual manner for 
the protection of those who had acted under their orders. 
They further urged that, in view of the danger of the 
insolence of the populace becoming contagious with the 
very soldier}^, it was necessary for them to keep those 
servants firm to their dutv bv new and unusual rewards. 
" Whatever weight," says Burke, dryly, " might have been 
in these reasons, they were but little prevalent, and the 
Ministry became by this affair and its concomitant circum- 
stances still more unpopular than by almost any other 
event." But it must in fairness be admitted that, foolish, 
stubborn, and even brutal as the King's ministers showed 
themselves to be, their position was a very difficult one. 


It was well open to the Government to urge, and to urge 
with truth, the peculiar lawlessness of the hour. It is an 
effective example of the ineffectiveness of a mere policy 
of coercion that, at a time when the penal laws of Great 
Britain were ferocious to a degree that would have dis- 
graced Dahomey, the laws were so frequently defied, and 
defied with impunity. The laws might be merciless, even 
murderous, but the Executive had not always the power to 
compel respect or to enforce obedience. Among the lower 
classes in the great city, and not merely that portion of the 
lower classes who are qualified by the appellation of the 
dangerous classes, but in strata where at least a moderate 
degree of civilization might be hoped for, an amount of 
savagery, of lawlessness, and of cruelty prevailed that 
would have not ill become the pirates of the Spanish Seas 
or the most brutal of Calabrian brigands. The hideous 
institution of the pillory stimulated and fostered all the 
worst instincts of a mob to whose better instincts no decent 
system of education sought to appeal. Ignorance, and 
poverty, and dirt brooded over the bulk of the poorer popu- 
lation, to breed their inevitable consequences. Murder was 
alarmingly common. Eiots that almost reached the propor- 
tions of petty civil wars were liable to arise at any moment 
between one section of the poorer citizens and another. 
The horrors of the Brownrigg case show to what extent 
lust of cruelty could go. The large disbandments that 
are the inevitable consequence of peace after a long war 
had thrown out of employment, and thrown upon the coun- 
try, no small number of needy, unscrupulous, and desper- 
ate men, only too ready to lend a hand to any disturbance 
that might afford a chance of food and drink and plunder. 

Mob law ruled in London to an extraordinary degree 
during the whole of the eighteenth century. It reached a 
high pitch, but not its highest pitch, at the time when the 
watchword was Wilkes and Liberty. London was to wit- 
ness bitterer work, bloodier work than anything which fol- 
lowed upon the Middlesex election and the imprisonment 
of the popular hero. But for the time the audacity of the 
mob seemed to have gone its farthest. The temper of the 


mob was insolent, its insolence was brutal. It hated all 
foreigners — and among foreigners it now included Scotch- 
men — and it manifested its hatred in vituperation, and 
when it dared in violence. A white man would hardly 
be in more danger in a mid- African village than a foreigner 
was in the streets of London. There is a contemporary ac- 
count written by a French gentleman who travelled in 
England, and who published his observations on what he 
saw in England, which gives a piteous account of the bar- 
barous incivility to which he, his friends, and his servants 
were exposed when they walked abroad. The mob that 
jeered and insulted the master very nearly killed the 
servant for the single offence of being a Frenchman. But 
the brutalities of the mob were not limited to strangers. 
The citizens of London fared almost as badly if not quite 
as badly as any Frenchman could do. Fielding gives a 
picture in one of his essays of the lawless arrogance which 
was characteristic of the rabble. He gave to the mob the 
title of the Fourth Estate in an article in the Covent Garden 
Journal for June 13, 1752, and in another article a week 
later he painted an ironical picture of the brutal manners 
and overbearing demeanor of the mob. " A gentleman," 
he wrote, "may go a voyage at sea with little more, hazard 
than he can travel ten miles from the metropolis." On 
the river, on the streets, on the highways, according to 
Fielding, mob manners prevailed, and brutal language 
might at any moment be followed by brutal actions. When 
the largest allowance is made for the exaggeration of the 
satirist, enough remains to show that the condition of 
London in the second half of the eighteenth century was 
disorderly in the extreme. People who ventured on the 
Thames were liable to the foulest insults, and even to be 
run down by those who were pleased to regard the stream 
as their appanage, and who resented the appearance on it 
of any who seemed better dressed than themselves. Women 
of fashion were liable to be hustled, mobbed, insulted if 
they ventured in St. James's Park on a Sunday evening. 
No one could walk the streets by day without the prob- 
ability of being annoyed, or by night without the risk of 


being knocked down. After painting his grim picture in 
the Hogarth manner, Fielding concluded grimly that he 
must observe " that there are two sorts of persons of 
whom this fourth estate do yet stand in some awe, and 
whom, consequently, they have in great abhorrence: these 
are a justice of the peace and a soldier. To these two it 
is entirely owing that they have not long since rooted all 
the other orders out of the commonwealth.^' 

The Government hoped that the longer Wilkes lay in 
prison, the more chance there was that the enthusiasm 
for him would abate. But in this hope the Government 
were disappointed. Even in the ranks of the ministers 
the King was not able to find unswerving agreement to his 
demands for Wilkes's expulsion from Parliament. Out- 
side Parliament the agitation was not only undiminished, 
but was even on the increase. This was shown conclusively 
by a fresh event in connection with Middlesex. Cooke, 
who was the colleague of Wilkes in the representation of 
the county, died. Serjeant Glynn, who had made himself 
conspicuous as the champion of Wilkes and the advocate 
of the popular cause, came forward to contest the vacant 
seat, and carried the constituency in spite of the most deter- 
mined efforts on the part of the royal faction to defeat 
him. There were more riots, more deaths on the popular 
side, more trials, more convictions for murder and more 
pardons of the condemned men. The agitation which had 
been burning at a steady heat blazed up into a flame. 
Wilkes made every use of the opportunity. He had suc- 
ceeded in getting a copy of the letter which Lord Wey- 
mouth had sent to the magistrates, the letter in which Lord 
Weymouth had practically urged the magistrates to fire 
upon the people. Wilkes immediately sent it to the St. 
James's Chronicle, a tri-weekly independent Whig jour- 
nal which had been started in 1760. The >S'^. James's 
Chronicle printed the letter, and Wilkes's own letter ac- 
companying it, in which he accused the Ministry of having 
planned and determined upon the " horrid massacre of St. 
George's Fields." The letter, said Wilkes, " shows how 
long a hellish project can be brooded over by some infernal 


spirits without one moment's remorse." It may be ad- 
mitted that if the language of Wilkes's enemies in the 
two Houses was strong even to ruffianism, Wilkes could 
and did give them as good as he got in the way of invective 
and vituperation. 

The Government, goaded into fury by this daring provo- 
cation, resolved to make an example of the offender. Lord 
Barrington brought the letter formally before the House 
of Commons. The House of Commons immediately voted 
it a libel, and summoned Wilkes from his prison to the 
bar of the House. On February 3, 1769, Wilkes appeared 
before the Commons. With perfect composure he admit- 
ted the authorship of the letter to the St. James's Chronicle, 
and, with an audacity that exasperated the House, he pro- 
claimed his regret that he had not expressed himself upon 
the subject in stronger terms, and added that he should 
certainly do so whenever a similar occasion should present 
itself. " Whenever," he said, " a Secretary of State shall 
dare to write so bloody a scroll, I will through life dare 
to write such prefatory remarks, as well as to make 
my appeal to the nation on the occasion." Wilkes found 
champions in the House of Commons. Burke, Beekford, 
and many others either defended Wilkes or urged that the 
matter was not for the House of Commons, but for the law 
courts to deal with. In the division the Government was 
triumphant by a majority of 219 against 137, and Wilkes 
was formally expelled from the House of Commons on the 
ground, not merely of his comments on the letter of Lord 
Weymouth, but on account of the ISTumber Forty-five of the 
North Briton and the " Essav on Woman." 

A new writ was issued for the county of Middlesex. 
The county of Middlesex promptly re-elected Wilkes with- 
out opposition on February 16. On February 17 the House 
of Commons again voted the expulsion of Wilkes. This 
time the House of Commons exceeded its powers and its 
privileges in adding that the expelled man was incapable 
of sitting in the existing Parliament. Every blow that the 
royal party had struck at Wilkes had only aroused stronger 
sympathy for him ; and this illegal act, this usurpation 


by one House of powers that only belonged to Parliament, 
caused the liveliest indignation. It was resolved by the 
friends of Wilkes, and by all who were the friends of the 
principles with which Wilkes had come to be identified, to 
fight to the utmost in defence of their constitutional rights, 
that were now so gravely, so wantonly jeopardized. On 
March 16 there was a new polling at Brentford, and, as 
before, Wilkes was returned unopposed. There was, in- 
deed, an effort made by an obscure merchant named Ding- 
ley to oppose him, but he could find no freeholder to 
second him, and he was chivied ignominiously from 
the scene of the election. On March 17 the House of 
Commons, for the third time, played what Burke called the 
tragi-comedy of declaring the election void. A new writ 
was again issued, and this time the Ministry were resolved 
that, come what come might, Wilkes should have an op- 
ponent. It was not the easiest of tasks to find a man 
willing to oppose Wilkes's candidature on the hustings at 
Brentford. Dingley, the merchant, had experienced the 
violence of the mob; it was confidently assumed that any 
other antagonist would fare very much worse. But the 
Ministry found their champion in a young officer. Colonel 
Luttrell, of the Guards, a son of Lord Irnham. Luttrell 
was a gallant young soldier, a man of that temper which 
regards all popular agitations with supreme disdain, and 
of that courage that would face any danger, not merely 
with composure, but with pleasure. His friends were so 
apprehensive that he was going to his death that his life 
was insured, and the gentlemen of the clubs, who were al- 
ways willing to bet upon any imaginable contingency, 
betted freely on his chances of surviving his adventure. 
Wilkes's friends, however, were resolved to disappoint the 
expectations of their enemies. Thanks to their energy 
and patience, the election went off with perfect order. 
Wilkes was, of course, returned at the top of the poll by 
an enormous majority. Luttrell came next with less than 
a quarter of his votes, and an absurd attorney, who had 
thrust himself into the election at the last moment, came 
last with a ludicrous poll of five votes. 


On Thursday, April 13, Wilkes was elected. London 
was again illuminated, and a great demonstration outside 
the King's Bench Prison congratulated the hero of the 
hour on his third triumph. On the following day the 
House of Commons prepared again to reject Wilkes. The 
debate lasted over the Saturday — a rare event in those 
days — and in the early daw^ning of Sunday morning 
Colonel Luttrell was declared to be duly elected as the 
member for Middlesex. The ministerial victory was not a 
very great victory. They had only a majority of 197 votes 
to 143. It served their turn at a pinch, but it was not a 
big enough majority to inspire Lord North with the 
courage to resist a proposal that a fortnight should be al- 
lowed to the electors of Middlesex in which, if they wished, 
to petition against conduct which practically deprived them 
of their constitutional rights. 

Lord North had many years of public life before him, 
many years of slumbering and blundering on the treasury 
bench, before his death in 1792, as Lord Guildford, in a 
melancholy, premature old age. In those years he was 
privileged to do a vast amount of injury to his country, 
uncompensated for by any act to her advantage. Lord 
North's conduct in the case of Wilkes was not the most 
foolish act in a career of folly, but it certainly served as an 
illuminating preface to a chronicle of wasted time. No 
proofs of the wit that endeared him to his contemporaries 
have been preserved ; his fame for an unalterable urbanity 
is but an empty memory; his record is only rescued from 
oblivion by the series of incredible follies which began 
with the unjust attempt to annihilate Wilkes. 




While all this was going on a new force suddenly made 
itself felt in English political life. The King and his 
ministers found themselves attacked by a mysterious and 
dangerous opponent. On March 21, 1769, a letter was ad- 
dressed to the Public Advertiser, signed " Junius," which 
marked the beginning of a new era in political literature. 
At that time the Puhlic Advertiser was the most important 
paper in London. It had first appeared under that name 
in 1752, but it was the direct descendant, through a series 
of changes of name, of the Daily Post, which Defoe had 
helped to start in 1719. It had its rivals in the Daily Ad- 
vertiser, which was founded in 1724, and the Gazetteer 
and New Daily Advertiser, which was started in 1728. In 
the course of time both these journals had sunk to be little 
more than advertising sheets. They gave hardly any news, 
and they had no political influence. The Public Advertiser 
was a much more important paper. It gave abundance of 
foreign and domestic intelligence, it had original con- 
tributions in prose and verse, and its columns were always 
open to letters from correspondents of all kinds on all 
manner of subjects. 

It was not until the first letter signed with the signature 
of Junius appeared that the paper assumed a serious po- 
litical imj^ortance. The writer, whoever he was, who chose 
that signature had written before in the columns of the 
Public Advertiser. In 1767 Woodfall, the publisher, re- 
ceived the first letter from the correspondent who was to 
become so famous, and from time to time other letters 
came signed by various names taken from classical no- 
menclature, such as Mnemon, Atticus, Lucius, Brutus, 


Domitian, Vindex, and;, perhaps, Poplicola. But it was with 
the adoption of the name of Junius that the real impor- 
tance of the letters began. They came at a crisis; they 
spoke for the popular side; they spoke with a bitterness 
and a ferocity that had hitherto not been attempted in 
political journalism. The great French writer Taine has 
said that the letters of Junius, at a time of national irrita- 
tion and anxiety, fell one by one like drops of fire on the 
fevered limbs of the body politic. He goes on to say 
that if Junius made his phrases concise, and selected his 
epithets, it was not from a love of style, but in order the 
better to stamp his insult. Oratorical artifices in his hand 
became instruments of torture, and when he filed his 
periods it was to drive the knife deeper and surer, with an 
audacity of denunciation and sternness of animosity, with 
a corrosive and burning irony applied to the most secret 
corners of private life, with an inexorable persistence of 
calculated and meditated persecution. 

The first few letters of Junius were devoted to an alterca- 
tion with Sir William Draper over the character in the 
first place of Lord Granby and in the second place of Lord 
Granby's defender, Sir William Draper. Sir William, 
though he fought stoutly for his friend and stoutly for 
himself, did neither himself nor his friend much good by 
engaging in the controversy. He was no match for the 
weapons of Junius. He had neither the wit nor the venom 
of his antagonist. But the great interest of the letters 
began when Junius, taking up the cause of Wilkes, struck 
at higher game than Sir William Draper or Lord Granby. 
His first letter to the Duke of Grafton was an indictment 
of the Duke for the conduct of the Crown in the case of a 
murder trial arising out of the Brentford election. A 
young man named George Clarke had been killed in a riot 
and a man named Edward M'Quirk was tried and found 
guilty of the murder. A kind of hugger-mugger inquest 
produced a declaration that Clarke's death was not caused 
by the blow he had received from his assailant, and in 
consequence, " whereas a doubt had arisen in our royal 
breast," the King formally pardoned the murderer by royal 

VOL. III. — 5 ■ 


proclamation. On this theme Junius lashed Grafton and 
concluded his letter with a direct allusion to Wilkes. He 
asked if Grafton had forgotten, while he was withdrawing 
this desperate wretch from that justice which the laws had 
awarded and which the whole people of England de- 
manded, that there was another man, the favorite of his 
country, whose pardon would have been accepted with 
gratitude, whose pardon would have healed all divisions. 
" Have you quite forgotten that this man was once your 
Grace's friend? Or is it to murderers only that you will 
extend the mercy of the Crown?'' 

The attack thus daringly begun was steadily maintained. 
Wilkes had no keener, no acuter champion than Junius. 
With great skill Junius avoided all appearance of violent 
partisanship. He was careful to censure much in Wilkes's 
conduct, careful to discriminate between Wilkes's private 
character and Wilkes's public conduct. The unjustifiable 
action of the House of Commons in forcing Colonel Lut- 
trell upon the electors of Middlesex gave Junius the op- 
portunity of assailing Wilkes's enemies without appearing 
to champion Wilkes to the utterance. Junius admitted 
that the Duke of Grafton might have had some excuse in 
his opposition to Wilkes on account of Wilkes's character, 
and might have earned the approval of men who, looking 
no further than to the object before them, were not dissatis- 
fied with seeing Mr. Wilkes excluded from Parliament. 
But, Junius went on to argue, "you have now taken care 
to shift the question; or, rather, you have created a new 
one, in which Mr. Wilkes is no more concerned than any 
other English gentleman. You have united the country 
against you on one grand constitutional point, on the de- 
cision of which our existence as a free people absolutely 
depends. You have asserted, not in words but in fact, that 
representation in Parliament does not depend upon the 
choice of the freeholders." 

The authorship of the letters of Junius is one of those 
problems, like the problems of the identity of the Man in 
the Iron Mask, which have never been settled with abso- 
lute certainty and which probably never will be settled 


with absolute certainty. But between absolute certainty 
and the highest degree of probability there is no very great 
gulf fixed, and it is in the highest degree probable that 
the author of the letters was Philip Francis. The letters 
have been attributed to all manner of men. They were 
ascribed, absurdly enough, to Wilkes. Wilkes could write 
bitterly and he could write well, but he could write neither 
so w^ell nor so bitterly as Mr. WoodfalFs correspondent. 
Dr. Johnson, who ought to have known better, thought 
they were written by Burke. It is his excuse that there 
did not seem at the time any man of the same ability as 
the writer of the letters except Burke. But Dr. Johnson, 
who had been quick enough to recognize the genius of the 
anonymous author of the essay on " The Sublime and the 
Beautiful," erred when he thought that the same hand 
penned the anonymous letters. The prose of Burke was 
as far above the prose of Junius as the prose of Junius was 
above the prose of Wilkes. None of the letters surpasses 
in ferocity, none approaches in excellence the letter which 
Burke wrote to the noble Duke who had slandered him. 
The letters were attributed to Barre; they were attributed 
to Lee, who was yet to earn another kind of fame; they 
were attributed to many hands. To us, at least, it seems 
clear that they were the work of Philip Francis. 

The electors of Middlesex did petition against the sub- 
stitution of the despised Luttrell for the adored Wilkes. 
The consideration of the petition was the occasion for one 
of the most memorable debates that can be recorded of 
an age rich in memorable debates. On the one side the 
influence of the Ministry and the influence of the King 
induced Blackstone to deny himself and to falsify those 
principles of constitutional law with which his name is 
associated. On the other side principles as little honorable 
but a far acuter political perception urged Wedderburn, 
who was nominally a King's man, to go over to the popular 
cause with the air of a Coriolanus. On the one side 
Fletcher Norton upheld the authority of the resolution. 
On the other side George Grenville argued against it with 
an acumen which showed that an able lawyer might have 


been a great lawyer. In that famous debate Burke spoke 
at his best, and yet the event of that debate was not the 
speech of Burke, was not the speech of the experienced 
politician, of the seasoned statesman, of the famous man 
of letters, but the speech of a young man who was almost 
a boy, the speech of Charles James Fox. All who have 
written on the debate agree in their admiration of the 
speech of one who, as far as Parliament was concerned, 
was but a raw lad and who nevertheless held his own 
on a point of law against experienced lawyers, in states- 
manship against Grenville, and in eloquence against 

Of course the petition of Middlesex was rejected; the 
election of Luttrell was confirmed. On the day of the 
confirmation the King prorogued Parliament in a foolish 
speech in which he seemed to think that he had gained a 
victory. But if the King and the Ministry believed or 
hoped that in expelling Wilkes from Parliament they had 
got rid of Wilkes for good and all; if they believed or 
hoped that in thus degrading Wilkes they would deprive 
him of his popularit}^ with the people or even diminish 
that popularity, they were speedily to be undeceived and 
bitterly disappointed. Both King and ministers knew 
their business very badly; with limitations of intelligence 
which would have been disastrous to the conduct of a 
small shop, they came in this instance, as in other in- 
stances, within measurable distance of wrecking a royalty. 
It is probable that Franklin, shrewd, cool observer though 
he was, went too far wiien he wrote in his journal that if 
George the Third had had a bad private character, and 
John Wilkes a good one, the latter might have turned the 
former out of his kingdom. But it is certain that the 
signs of the King's unpopularity were now as significant 
as were the signs of Wilkes's popularity. It had been said 
that at this time a good half of the King's subjects pre- 
ferred Wilkes to their King. The estimate is probably 
under rather than above the fact. Wilkes was placed in 
the position of being the champion of all the rights and 
liberties that Englishmen most prized; the King in the 


position of being their most uncompromising, most obsti- 
nate opponent. 

Thus, while honors were offered daily to the prisoner of 
the King's bench, insults were daily offered to his royal 
enemy. The King could scarcely go abroad without be- 
coming the object of a demonstration of popular disfavor, 
and even in his palace he could not escape from deputa- 
tions empowered to protest against the conduct of his 
ministers. In all parts of the kingdom public meetings 
were held, and from these public meetings petitions poured 
in upon the King calling upon him to dissolve his Parlia- 
ment. It has been truly observed that the custom 
of holding public meetings for the discussion of 
public grievances dates from this period. On two 
solemn occasions the Lord Mayor of London, accom- 
panied by the sheriffs, presented addresses to the King 
remonstrating against the action of the House of Com- 
mons. To the first address the King replied that it was 
disrespectful to him, injurious to Parliament, and irrecon- 
cilable to the principles of the Constitution. After which 
reply he could think of nothing better, nothing more 
kingly to do than to turn round to his courtiers and burst 
out laughing. He treated the second address with the 
same insolence, an insolence which provoked from the 
Lord Mayor an uncourtierly reply which reminded the 
King that those who endeavored to alienate the King's 
affections from his subjects were violators of the public 
peace and betrayers of the Constitution established by the 
glorious Revolution. Those words were afterwards in- 
scribed in gold upon the monument of the mayor who 
spoke them. If those words, and words of like purport 
and temper, at first moved the King to laughter, they soon 
exasperated him past laughing. Once he clapped his hand 
to his sword-hilt and declared that he would sooner have 
recourse to that than grant a dissolution. The tension of 
public feeling can best be estimated when a constitutional 
sovereign on the one side could dare to make such a re- 
mark; when a representative of the people like Colonel 
Barre on the other side could dare in the House of Com- 


mons to say that disregard of public petitions might lead 
the people to think of assassination. 

While the King was insulted and insulting, and longing 
to stifle opposition by the sword, John Wilkes in his prison 
was receiving new proofs of the place he held in public 
affection. He was elected alderman for the Ward of Far- 
ringdon Without. We are told that his table at the prison 
was daily supplied with the most rare and costly delica- 
cies, presented to him by his admirers. The mysterious 
Chevalier d'Eon sent him a present of Russian smoked 
tongues, with the whimsical wish that they could have the 
eloquence of Cicero, and the delicacy of Voltaire, to do 
him honor. Friendly revellers sent him hampers of the 
wine he liked the best. More serious gifts were laid at 
his feet. For a while money literally rained in upon him. 
The leading Whigs provided him with an income. Nobles 
and great ladies sent him large sums. A number of poli- 
ticians banded together under the title of the Society for 
Supporting the Bill of Eights, and raised a great deal of 
money, much of which went in meeting some of the heavy 
debts with which Wilkes was embarrassed, much of which 
went in keeping wp the princely way of living which suited 
Wilkes's temperament, and which was perhaps not un- 
suited to the part he was playing as the rival of a prince. 
In the public press, on the platform, on the stage, his in- 
fluence was enormous. His good pleasure sent politicians 
to Parliament; his good pleasure made London sheriffs, 
made provincial mayors. While the false rumor that he 
was the author of " The Letters of Junius " only swelled 
the volume of his fame, the author of those letters was 
adding to Wilkes's pride and power by public champion- 
ship and by private letters, choking with an adulation that 
seems strange indeed from so savage a pen. If Garrick 
dared for a moment to run counter to popular feeling, as 
a little earlier he had dared to disdain the praise of 
Churchill, he had to give way in the case of Wilkes, as he 
had given way in the case of Wilkes's poet. The very name 
of Wilkes drove men on both sides of the quarrel into a 
kind of frenzy. Alexander Cruden, of the " Concord- 


ance,'* showed his devotion to his King and his dislike of 
Wilkes by carrying a large sponge with him w^henever he 
walked abroad in order that he might wipe out the omi- 
nous number, forty-five, w^henever he saw it chalked up. As 
the number was chalked up everywhere by the Wilkites, 
Cruden soon found the task beyond his powers. It was 
lucky for him that he got no harm in his zeal, lucky for 
him that he did not come across that militant clergyman 
who pulled the nose of a Scotch naval officer for attacking 
Wilkes and then met his man in Hyde Park and wounded 

On April 17, 1770, Wilkes's term of imprisonment came 
to an end. Wilkes immediately started for Bath to avoid 
a demonstration in London; but London was illuminated 
in his honor, and in a great number of provincial towns 
his release was celebrated with all the signs of a national 
holiday. If he had been a hero in prison, he was no less 
a hero out of it. He moved from triumph to triumph. 
AVhile alderman he w^on a victory over the Court and the 
Commons which did much to establish the liberty of the 
press in England. The House of Commons, in a foolish 
attempt to suppress reports of the debates in Parliament, 
tried to arrest certain printers. Wilkes and the Lord 
Mayor took the printers' part; advised them to conceal 
themselves ; and in their turn arrested those who, in obedi- 
ence to a royal proclamation and the orders of the House, 
arrested the printers. 

The House of Commons committed the Lord Mayor and 
Alderman Oliver to the Tower, and summoned Wilkes to 
appear at the bar. Wilkes coolly replied that as he was 
a member of Parliament, and as he was not addressed as 
a member of Parliament should be, and ordered to attend 
in his place according to custom, he should ignore the 
summons. The House made a second and yet a third order 
for his appearance, each of which Wilkes treated with dis- 
dain. It is a significant proof of the power of Wilkes's 
popularity that the House did not take any steps to punish 
his contumacy. While it affected to find a consolation in 
the assurances of the King that Wilkes was " below the 


notice of the House/' it had to endure as best it might an 
affront resentment of which would only have added to 
Wilkes's popularity. The honors paid to the Lord Mayor 
and the alderman during their imprisonment showed only 
too plainly that hostility to the Court and the Parliamen- 
tary majority was heroism in the eyes of the majority of 
the citizens of London. 

Once again Wilkes had won the day. From that time 
forward Parliament put no embargo upon the publication 
of reports of its debates. Fresh honors were showered on 
Wilkes. He was elected sheriff. He was presented by the 
Court of Common Council with a silver goblet, designed 
according to his own w^sh with a representation of the 
death of Caesar, and graced with the ominous motto from 
one of the poems of Churchill: 

May every tyrant feel 
The keen deep searchings of a patriot steel, 

a citation which, taken in conjunction with Barre's wild 
talk in the House about assassination, was sufficiently sig- 
nificant of the temper of the time. 

Wilkes had been alderman; he had been sheriff; he w^as 
now to bear the crown of civic honors. He was put in 
nomination for the office of Lord Mayor. The Court party 
made a desperate effort to defeat him. They had tried and 
failed to prevent him from being elected to Parliament. 
They had tried and failed to prevent him from being made 
alderman, from being made sheriff. They now tried with all 
their might to prevent him from being made Lord Mayor. 
Wilkes had much to fight against. There were defections 
from his own party. The once devoted Home had squab- 
bled with his idol over money matters, and was now as ven- 
omous an enemy as he had been a fulsome partisan. Alder- 
man Townshend, an ex-Lord Mayor, strained all his influ- 
ence, which was great in the City, against Wilkes. A wild 
rumor got about at one time, indeed, that Townshend had 
settled the difficulty of the Court forever by challenging 
Wilkes and shooting him dead. The story had no founda- 
tion, but for a moment it flattered the hopes of Wilkes's 


enemies and fluttered the hearts of Wilkes's friends. The 
opposition ended as opposition to Wilkes always ended. 
Twice he was placed at the head of the poll, and twice the 
Court of Aldermen chose another candidate. The third 
time, in the election of 1774, Wilkes was at last chosen 
as Lord Mayor hy the Court of Aldermen in despite of the 
unwearied efforts of the Court party to defeat him. 
" Thus," wrote Walpole, " after so much persecution by 
the Court, after so many attempts upon his life, after a 
long imprisonment in jail, after all his own crimes and 
indiscretions, did this extraordinary man, of more extraor- 
dinary fortune, attain the highest office in so grave and 
important a city as the capital of England, always reviving 
the more opposed and oppressed, and unable to shock 
Fortune and make her laugh at him who laughed at every- 
body and everything !" It has been well said by Mr. Fraser 
Kae that the siErnificance of election to the office of Lord 
]\Iayor was very much greater more than a hundred years 
ago than it is now. Then the Chief Magistrate of the 
City was not necessarily a man who had passed through 
certain minor offices and who rose by routine to fill the 
highest. At that time the Corporation was a political 
power, which ministers had to take into account, and 
which sovereigns had to propitiate. A greater triumph 
than the mayoralty followed in quick succession. At the 
general election of 1774 Wilkes came forward again, and 
for the fifth time, as candidate for ]\Iiddlesex. This time 
he was not opposed- Luttrell abandoned an impossible 
position and did not stand. Ten years after Wilkes's first 
appearance in the House of Commons he returned to it 
again in triumph as the member for Middlesex and the 
Lord Mayor of London. 

And here, on the top of his triumph, Wilkes may be 
said to drop through the tissue of our history. He was 
to live nearly a quarter of a century longer, three-and- 
twenty years of a life that was as calm and peaceful as the 
hot manhood that preceded it had been vexed and unquiet. 
Although he lives in history as one of the most famous of 
the world's agitators, he had in his heart little affection 


for the life of a public man. And the publicity of the 
civic official was especially distasteful to him. He hated 
the gross festivals, the gross pleasures, the gross display 
of City life. He sickened of the long hours spent in the 
business of mayoralty; he sickened yet more of the 
pleasures incidental to mayoralty. Though he remained 
in Parliament for many years, and conducted himself there 
with zeal, discretion, and statesmanship, and always, or 
almost always, proved himself to be the champion of lib- 
erty and the democratic principle, he did not find his 
greatest happiness in public speeches and the triumphs and 
defeats of the division lobby. What he loved best on earth 
was the society of his daughter, between whom and him- 
self there existed a friendship that is the best advocate for 
Wilkes's character. And he loved best to enjoy that so- 
ciety in the kind of sham classic retirement which had so 
powerful an attraction for so many of the men of the 
eighteenth century. His cottage in the Isle of Wight, with 
its Doric column to the manes of Churchill, with its shrine 
to Fortuna Eedux, was his idea of the ancient city of 

His tastes and pleasures were the tastes and pleasures 
of a man of letters. He affected a curious kind of scholar- 
ship. The hand that had been employed upon the North 
Briton now devoted itself to the editing of classic texts; 
the intellect that had been associated with the privately 
printed " Essay on Woman '^ was now associated with pri- 
vately printed editions of Catullus which he fondly be- 
lieved to be flawless, and of Theophrastus, whose Greek 
text it pleased him to print without accents. In his tran- 
quil old age he made himself as many friends as in his 
hot manhood he had made himself enemies. Those who 
had most hated him came under the spell of his attraction, 
even the King himself, even Dr. Johnson. His interview 
with Dr. Johnson is one of the most famous episodes in 
the literary and political history of the last century. His 
assurance to King George that he himself had never been 
a Wilkite is in one sense the truest criticism that has ever 
been passed upon him. If to be a Wilkite was to enter- 


tain all the advanced and all the wild ideas expressed by 
many of those who took advantage of his agitation, then 
certainly Wilkes was none such. But he was a Wilkite in 
the better sense of being true to his own opinions and true 
to his sense of public duty. When he expressed the wish 
to have the words " A friend to liberty " inscribed upon 
his monument, he expressed a wish which the whole tenor 
of his life, the whole tone of his utterances fully justified. 
And if he was loyal to his principles he could be chivalrous 
to his enemies. Almost his last public appearance was at 
the general election of 1796, when he came forward, with 
a magnanimity which would have well become many a 
better man, to support the candidature of Home Tooke 
at Westminster, of the man who, after having been his 
fawning friend, his fulsome flatterer, had turned against 
him with the basest treachery and the bitterest malignity. 
There may have been, surely there must have been, a vein 
of irony in the words in which Wilkes complimented the 
apostate and the turncoat as a man of public virtues. But 
the irony was cloaked b}^ courtesy; if the action smacked 
of the cynic, at least it was done in obedience to the behest 
to forgive our enemies. 

On ISTovember 28, 1797, the old, worn, weary man, who 
had worked so hard and done so much, welcomed, in his 
capacity of Chamberlain of the City of London, Admiral 
Sir Horatio Xelson to the honorary freedom of the City. 
The setting star saluted the rising star. Xelson was 
then thirty-nine. He had been at sea since he was twelve. 
He had voyaged in polar seas and tropic waters. He had 
fought the Americans. He had fought the French. " Hate 
a Frenchman as you would the devil " was his simple- 
minded counsel of perfection. He had fought the Span- 
iards. He had lost an eve at Calvi. He had lost an arm 
at Santa Cruz. He was ten vears married. His love, his 
error, his glory, Emma Hamilton, Carracioli, Trafalgar, 
were vet to come. 

Less than a month later, in the late December, 1797, 
John Wilkes was dead. He was seventy years old. For 
nearly forty years he had lived unknown, unheeded. For 


ten years he was the most conspicuous man in England, 
the best hated and the best loved. For twenty years more 
he was an honored public and private citizen. He will 
always be remembered as one of the most remarkable men 
of a century of remarkable men. 




. One of the most immediate results of the Wilkes con- 
troversy in the House of Commons was to draw atten- 
tion to a young man who had entered Parliament at the 
General Election of 1768 while he was still considerably 
under age. The young member for Midhurst made him- 
self conspicuous as the most impassioned opponent of 
Wilkes. A strenuous supporter of Luttrell outside the 
walls of Westminster, inside those walls the boy who repre- 
sented the fictitious constituency of Midhurst distinguished 
himself by the easy insolence with which he assailed Wilkes 
and the popular cause which Wilkes represented. He de- 
lighted in informing the delighted majority in the House 
that he, for his part, " paid no regard whatever to the 
voice of the people." When Burke condescended to notice 
and to rebuke the impertinence of a youth of nineteen, 
he little thought that the lad whom he reproved would 
come to be a far more extreme advocate of popular rights 
than he himself, or that the chronicle of the century in 
recording the names of those who made themselves promi- 
nent for the utterance of democratic opinions should place 
the name of John Wilkes far below the name of Charles 
James Fox. 

It would not be easy to imagine a worse training for a 
youth intended for the service of his country and des- 
tined to contend for the honors of the State than the life 
that was lived by Charles James Fox from early boyhood 
to early manhood. It was not in the power of his father, 
Henry Fox, Lord Holland, to set before his son the example 
of a parent whose public life was pure, admirable, and 
honorable. But in the domestic circle Lord Holland was 


a very different man from the corrupt and juggling 
politician known to the world. In the domestic circle his 
affections and his tendernesses were his most conspicuous 
traits, and in the domestic circle he w^as as unfortunate 
for his children through his very virtues as outside it he 
was unfortunate by reason of his vices. Fox was a loving 
husband, but he was an adoring father, and the extremcst 
zeal and warmth of his adoration was given to his son 
Charles James. The child was from the first precocious, 
alert, and gifted beyond his years, and the father fostered 
and flattered the precocity with a kind of worship that 
proved, as it was bound to prove, disastrous. It seems to 
have been Henry Fox's deliberate belief that the best way 
to bring up a spirited, gifted, headstrong child was to 
gratify every wish, surrender to every whim, and pander 
to every passion that ebullient youth could feel. The anec- 
dotes of the day teem with tales of the fantastic homage 
that Fox paid to the desires and moods of his imperious 
infant. He made him his companion while he was still in the 
nursery ; he allow^ed him to be his master before he had fair- 
ly left it. Never was the creed of Thelema acted upon more 
consistently and persistently than by Lord Holland towards 
Charles James Fox. It is an astonishing proof of the 
strength and innate goodness of the childish nature that 
it was not ruined outright, hopelessly and helplessly, by 
the worst training ever given to a son by a father. That 
it did Fox infinite harm cannot be denied and was only to 
be expected. That it failed entirely to unbalance his mind 
and destroy his character only serves to show the sterling 
temper of Fox's metal. His youth was like his childhood, 
petted, spoiled, wayward, capricious, and captivating. 
Every one loved him, his father, his father's friends, the 
school companions with whom he wrote Latin verses in 
praise of lovely ladies with lovely names. All through his 
life the love of men and the love of women was given to 
him with a generosity that was only equal to the lovable 
nature that compelled and commanded it. His career is 
one record of unrivalled precocity. As a child he had been 
his father's friend rather than his father's plaything; as a 


lad he was his father's travelling companion, and learned 
from that father the pleasant art of sowing wild oats not 
with the hand but with the whole sack. He returned to 
England a proficient gambler, a finished rake, the dear 
friend of famous men, the darling of beautiful women, to 
enter, before he was of age, upon that political career in 
which it seemed certain that if he would follow in his 
father's steps he might hope for more than his father's 
fortunes. If Charles Fox had been quite cankered by his 
father's care, if the essence of his genius had been corrupt- 
ible, he might have given the King's friends a leader as 
far removed from them as Lucifer from his satellites, and 
contrived perhaps — though that indeed would have been 
diflficult — to amass almost as much money as he was able 
to spend with comfort. To judge by the young man's 
initial enterprise, his Parliamentary career promised to 
be as brilliant and as brutal as any king who hated 
Chatham and hated Wilkes and hated the American colo- 
nies could possibly desire. The furious intolerance of his 
maiden speech was happily, however, only like that false 
dawn familiar to travellers in the East. The true sunrise 
was yet to come. But for six years he was as consistent 
in his support of Lord North and the policy that North 
represented as for the rest of his career he was consistent in 
opposition to it. 

The life of Fox recalls, in its brilliant activity, in its 
no less brilliant scholarship, the dazzling careers of some 
of those Italian princes who were equally at home and 
equally distinguished in the battlefield and in the library, 
equally happy in handling their weapons or in turning the 
pages of the latest volume from the presses of Aldus that 
renewed the youth of some masterpiece of Greece or Rome. 
Fox's scholarship would have been remarkable in a man 
whose days and nights were devoted to scholarship alone. 
It was little less than marvellous in a man who gave a 
large part of his days to the fiercest political fights of 
a fiercely political age and a large part of his nights to 
the fascination of the card-table, the disasters of the dice- 
box, and the pursuit of the sweet, elusive shadow which is 

144 A HISTUKY OF THE hVlli GEORGES. ch. li. 

called pleasure. Fox's love for literature was indeed its 
own reward. In the darkest hours of a life that tasted the 
bitterness of many public and many private sorrows he 
could steep his vexed spirit in the sweet waters watched 
by the ]\Iuses, and arise cleansed, inspirited, and comforted. 
Though he saw those public honors that his genius de- 
served denied, though he lost those chances of command by 
which he could best have served his country, though his 
own fault wrecked his fortune and his own follies wasted 
his substance and delivered the home of his glorious youth 
into alien hands, he could turn from troubles that would 
have broken the spirit and cracked the heart of a less 
heroic fighter, to find solace and consolation in the golden 
music of the " Odyssey " and the majestic cadences of 

Fox loved the classics with the passion of a poet, not 
with the patience of a pedant, and found that noble rapt- 
ure in the human beauty of Euripides which Parson 
Adams found in the divine grandeur of Aeschylus. But if 
his reading in the literatures of Greece and Rome was wide 
and deep, it was not limited to the literatures which the 
world calls classic. France, Italy, Spain, offered him 
their best, and found him a worthy worshipper, the faith- 
ful lover and loyal student of all that was best in each. 
He was the comrade of Don Quixote as he was the com- 
rade of Orlando Furioso and the comrade of G-il Bias. 
But he was never one of those who exalt the laurels of other 
lands to the neglect of those of their own. He knew Eng- 
lish literature and loved English literature as well as if 
he had never scanned a Latin line or conjugated a Greek 
verb or read a page of Moliere, or Calderon, or Metastasio. 
He knew Chaucer as well as it was possible for any one 
then or for generations later to know Chaucer, and he 
appreciated him as few have appreciated him before or 
since. The poets of his own time were as dear to him in 
their degree as the singer of England's morning song. 
It is hardly necessary to say that he was as familiar with 
Shakespeare as every one should be and as very few arc- 
Only one arc was wanting to the circle of his splendid 


culture, only one string was lacking to the bow of his pro- 
digious reading. There was a great literature growing up 
in a neighboring country of which Charles Fox knew noth- 
ing, and of which we cannot doubt that he would have re- 
joiced to know much. It is curious that in a country which 
had been ruled for three successive reigns by German 
sovereigns, the German language was entirely neglected 
and the glorious dawn of German literature entirely 
ignored. While Fox was still a young man, playing at love, 
playing at cards, playing at politics, and through all these 
diversions adding to that mighty store of learning, and 
training his mind in the finest and most intimate judg- 
ments upon the Greek and Roman poets, Germany had been 
enriched by the masterpiece of the greatest critic since 
Aristotle, and was fostering the golden youth of the great- 
est poet since Shakespeare. It would have amazed Fox, 
as it would have amazed everv Enorlish scholar then liv- 
ing, if he could have been told that the spirit of the an- 
tique world was to be renewed in a country which had 
given them four generations of phlegmatic princes, and 
in a language of which few scholars in England knew a 
single word. 

Fox^s term of adherence to North and to North's policy 
was not too happy a time for the nominal superior. A 
hot-headed young Lord of the Admiralty resigned his 
office in a huff, and was not without difficulty persuaded 
to return to office as Commissioner of the Treasury. The 
breach between Fox and North was bridged over, but the 
bridge was frail. The two men eyed each other with dis- 
favor. Fox asserted his independence by occasionally 
voting against the minister, by consorting with Burke. 
After the death of Lord Holland, North revenged himself 
by dismissing Fox from office in a letter famous for its 
insolent brevity. For a time Fox still accorded to the 
ministry an uncertain support, but he was drifting in 
thought and speech and action in the inevitable direction 
of his genius. The hour came when he took his seat on 
the Opposition benches, and asserted himself as a formi- 


dable opponent of the Government. A quarrel across the 
Atlantic gave him the opportunity to prove that the prin- 
ciples which men of to-day would call Liberal principles 
had gained one of their greatest and one of their most 
eloquent champions 

1765-74. LORD HILLSBOROUGH. 147 



While the battle had been raging over Wilkes at home, 
the cloud of trouble had been growing larger and larger 
abroad. The discontent of the American colonies in- 
creased in direct ratio with the determination of the home 
Government to ignore or to override that discontent. The 
King was fortunate, or believed himself to be fortunate, 
in tinding among his ministers the aptest instrument he 
could desire for striking at the Americans. Lord Hills- 
borough, the Secretary of State, was one of those men who 
appear to be inspired by a very genius of perversity. He 
had a power of misunderstanding a political situation and 
underestimating a political crisis which, if it could only 
have been reversed, would have earned him a foremost 
place among the statesmen of his time. But his per- 
versity was of like temper with the perversity of the 
King, and Lord Hillsborough was admirably quali- 
fied to interpret the King's dislike of his American 
subjects and to make himself the mouthpiece of the anti- 
Colonial feeling which had been steadily growing up in 
the House of Commons since the days when the repeal of 
the Stamp Act had known its season of brief popularity. 

The comparative temperance and lucidity of the Rock- 
ingham period seemed now indeed remote and memorable. 
Exasperation and not conciliation appeared to be the per- 
sistent note of England's colonial policy. It was England's 
misfortune to be peculiarly ill served on both sides of the 
Atlantic by those who were intrusted with the conduct of 
colonial affairs. It would be hard to say whether the pro- 
vincial governors abroad or the ministers at home were 
least capable of understanding the people with whom they 


had to deal, or were most to blame for their actions in the 
face of a danger that their own folly had brought about. 
With a man like Lord Hillsborough for Secretary of State 
in London, with a man like Bernard for Governor of 
Massachusetts in Boston, it is not to be wondered at now, 
and it ought not to have been wondered at then, that the 
colonies refused to crystallize into tranquillity. Francis 
Bernard was a man of certain ability, certain gifts, and 
uncertain good intentions. But he was, as we have seen, 
a perfervid Tory, a zealous chami^ion of the royal pre- 
rogative, a profound believer in the wisdom of minimizing, 
if not abrogating, the privileges of which the colonists, 
and especially the colonists of Massachusetts, were so 
proud. It was Bernard's peculiar fortune to be not merely 
the supporter but the adviser of the English Ministries in 
almost all the series of disastrous actions towards their 
colonies. Bernard was inspired by a kind of furious folly 
in his words and deeds. Unhappily, this kind of furious 
folly was not confined to the colonial governor. Lord 
Hillsborough was no less foolish and no less dangerous 
than Bernard. Horace Walpole described Hillsborough as 
nothing more than a pompous composition of ignorance 
and want of judgment. He certainly was hopelessly igno- 
rant of America, and he certainly showed a hopeless want 
of judgment in his dealings with the Americans. Hills- 
borough backed up Bernard in his blunders and his bragga- 
docio with the light heart that comes of an empty head. 
He backed up Bernard with a steady zeal that would have 
been splendid if it could have been made to serve any use- 
ful purpose. Where Bernard was bellicose and blustering, 
Hillsborough blustered and was bellicose in his turn. It 
was Hillsborough's honest, innate conviction that the 
American colonists were a poor-spirited, feeble-hearted, 
and still more feeble-handed pack of rascals, braggarts 
whom a firm front discomfited, natural bondsmen to whom 
it was only necessary, as in the old classic story, to show 
the whip to awe them into cringing submission. This 
theory found its fittest formula a little later, when Hills- 
borough, speaking for the Government he adorned, and in- 

1766. THE MUTINY ACT. 149 

spired by a more than usual afflatus of folly, declared that 
" we can grant nothing to the Americans except what they 
may ask with a halter round their necks." It is difficult 
to believe that a reasonable minister, endowed with a suffi- 
cient degree of human ability to push his way from office 
to office and from title to title, could have known so little 
of the history of his own country and the characteristics 
of his own countrymen as to think that any of England's 
children were easily to be frightened into ignominious 
supplication. But Hillsborough undoubtedly did think so, 
and he always acted consistently in support of his strong 
conviction that the independent colonists were nothing 
more than a mob of cowardly malcontents. He acted on 
this conviction to such good purpose that his name has 
earned its place of honor with that of Grenville, of Town- 
shend, and of Wedderburn, in the illustrious junta who 
were successfully busy about the sorry business of con- 
verting a great empire into a small one. 

After the Stamp Act had raised its crop of disturbance 
and disorder, the Government extended to the colonies the 
measure called the Mutiny Act, for the quartering of 
troops and providing them with necessaries. The Legis- 
lature of N'ew York refused to execute this Act, on the 
ground that it involved the very principle of taxation 
which had just been abandoned by the repeal of the Stamp 
Act. It made provision for the troops in its own way, and 
calmly ignored the Act of Parliament. Parliament retort- 
ed in due course by passing a bill by which the Governor, 
Council, and Assembly of New York were prevented from 
passing any law whatsoever until they had complied with 
the letter and the spirit of the Mutiny Act. This measure 
was loudly applauded in England, even by some who had 
shown themselves very friendly to the grievances of the 
colonists. When T^ew York found that her great deed was 
too great, and, bending before the anger of Parliament, 
reluctantly complied with the terms of the ^lutiny Act, 
there were not wanting observers to point out that the 
lesson, though only addressed to one colony, was of signifi- 
cance to all, and that an inevitable surrender was the proof 


of the hopeless inferiority of the colonies when brought 
into direct contest with the supreme power. These jubila- 
tions were as short-lived as they were untimely. If New 
York was weak and wavered, Massachusetts was more firm 
of purpose. She sternly refused to comply with the terms 
of the Mutiny Act. She went farther still in defiance of 
the Government. She issued a circular to the other colo- 
nies, calling upon them very frankly and very clearly to 
co-operate in taking some united course for the purpose 
of obtaining redress for the recent acts of the English 
Government. This was the second instance of deliberate 
combination for a definite end among the colonies, and it 
caused much disquiet and more irritation to the Govern- 
ment. Lord Hillsborough, always in favor of what he be- 
lieved to be firm measures, immediately sent Governor 
Bernard instructions to have the offending circular re- 
scinded. Governor Bernard would have been only too glad 
to obey, but obedience was not easy. 

Bernard could command, but Massachusetts could refuse 
to give way. When Bernard retaliated by dissolving the 
Massachusetts Legislature, colony after colony replied to 
his action by applauding the conduct of Massachusetts and 
condemning Lord Hillsborough. The English Govern- 
ment answered the protests of Maryland, Delaware, Vir- 
ginia, Georgia, and New York by creating a new office 
especially to deal with the colonies, and by appointing 
Lord Hillsborough to fill the post. Everything that could 
be done on the English side of the Atlantic by those in 
power to show those on the American side of the Atlantic 
that they might look in vain for justice or for considera- 
tion from authority was done. Lord Hillsborough was 
under the impression that a little firmness — what he called 
firmness — would soon bring the colonists to their senses, 
but every mail that came across the Atlantic showed that 
Lord Hillsborough's theory was unsupported by facts. Now 
it was the news that the seizure of John Hancock's sloop 
" Liberty " for a breach of the revenue laws had brought 
about a riot in Boston in which the Commissioners of 
Revenue had to fiv for their lives. Now it was the news of 


a great convention in Faneuil Hall to protest against the 
troops which Hillsborough, at the request of Bernard, 
poured into Boston. Now it was the news of daily in- 
creasing hostility between the citizens of Boston and the 
British soldiers quartered in the town. It was evident, 
even to Hillsborough, that a dangerous spirit had been 
aroused in America, but he still believed that America 
could be easily frightened or chastised into good behavior. 
He proposed to enforce an old law of Henry the Eighth 
by which the colonists offending could be shipped across 
the Atlantic for trial in England. All that was best and 
most eloquent in the House of Commons protested against 
such folly, and did not protest in vain. Some small con- 
cessions were made in a half-hearted and grudging way to 
the Americans. Governor Bernard was recalled. Some 
of the obnoxious taxes were repealed, though Lord North 
was not to be persuaded to abandon the tax on tea. These 
poor concessions were made known to the colonists in a 
more than usually uncivil and injudicious letter from Lord 
Hillsborough. The concessions were too trivial and they 
came too late. If Boston had its brief day of rejoicing 
when Bernard took his departure, the men of Boston were 
soon to be occupied with other thoughts than of banners 
and bonfires. The bad feeling between the people and the 
military grew worse, and at last displayed itself in active 
hostility. March 5, 1770, was a memorable day in the his- 
tory of Boston. Three thousand miles away Lord North 
was moving in Parliament for the repeal of all the Amer- 
ican duties with the single and fatal exception of the tax 
on tea. In Boston a small quarrel between some of the citi- 
zens and certain British troops under the command of 
Colonel Preston suddenly blazed up into a dangerous col- 
lision. Some of the soldiers fired. Several citizens were 
killed, several more wounded. There was an angry call to 
arms, and a general civil attack upon the military was only 
with difficulty prevented by the Lieutenant-Governor, who 
ordered the arrest and imprisonment of Colonel Preston 
and the soldiers under him. These duly underwent a trial 
whose conduct and whose issue reflect the highest honor 


upon Boston. The soldiers were defended by no less 
prominent a man and conspicuous a patriot than John 
Adams; and, thanks to John Adams, Colonel Preston and 
six of his men were acquitted, and only two of the soldiers 
convicted of manslaughter. But if the people of Boston 
were willing that even their enemies should be tried fairly, 
and fairly acquitted, they were not willing to allow the 
events of that day to pass into oblivion. A public funeral 
was accorded to the victims of the Boston Massacre, and 
the grim name for a grim deed was for long years later 
solemnly and publicly commemorated. 

The bad news of the Boston Massacre was followed to 
England by the bad news of the business of the " Gaspee." 
The " Gaspee " was an English warship employed to en- 
force the Eevenue Acts along the Rhode Island coast. Its 
commander. Lieutenant Duddington, took an active de- 
light in his duty which brought him into perpetual an- 
tagonism with a people who regarded elusion of the revenue 
laws as their privilege and prerogative. One night the 
" Gaspee,^' pursuing the Providence packet, that had re- 
fused to lower her colors in salutation as she passed, ran 
aground in shallow water and lay fast bound for the night. 
The news of her insolence to the Providence packet and 
of her present plight flew abroad all over Providence. 
After sundown a number of the townspeople of Provi- 
dence, well armed and stern of purpose, rowed from the 
town to the stranded " Gaspee," boarded her, and overcame 
the ineffectual resistance of her crew. In the scuffle Dud- 
dington was badly wounded. His wounds were dressed ; 
he and his men were put on shore with all their belongings. 
and then and there the " Gaspee " was set fire to and 
watched till she was consumed. Though a large money 
reward was offered for the apprehension of the offenders, 
no one of the assailants was ever brought before the King's 

Misfortunes like the Boston Massacre, disorders like 
the burning of the " Gaspee," naturally increased the anti- 
colonial exasperation of the English King and of ministers 
like North and Hillsborough. North thought whatever 


the King wished him to think. Hillsborough still believed 
that the Americans were only to be listened to when they 
came with halters around their necks. King George was 
convinced that the New England mutineers would speedily 
prove to be lambs when England chose to play the lion. 
At this moment of extreme tension something happened 
which still further strained the relations between the two 

In the year 1767, Hutchinson, who was then Governor- 
General of Massachusetts, and Oliver, the Lieutenant-Gov- 
ernor of the colony, wrote certain letters to Whatel}^, who 
was private secretary to George Grenville. These were 
private letters, confidential letters. Neither of the writers 
dreamed that they would ever become public possessions. 
They were intended to inform and to advise a minister's 
secretary and the minister himself. In these letters Hutch- 
inson and Oliver set forth very fully and frankly their 
views as to the condition of the colonies and the better 
way of dealing with them. Hutchinson and Oliver had 
suffered much at the hands of the people of Boston. It 
was chance rather than clemency which allowed them to 
escape with their lives on that wild August day of 1765. 
It is probable that their opinion of the popular party in 
Massachusetts was colored if not prejudiced by memories 
of the Stamp Act riots. Hutchinson and Oliver were all 
for strong measures of repression and coercion. To their 
minds the colonies were allowed a great deal too much 
liberty; their people and their leaders were not nearly so 
sensible of the advantage of British supremacy as they 
ought to be; they were forever asserting their own rights 
and privileges in a spirit that could only be properly met 
by a prompt and comprehensive curtailment of those 
rights and privileges. The colonists were too free, too 
proud of their charters and constitutions. Hutchinson 
and Oliver, with that fine superiority to charters and con- 
stitutions which characterized so many a royal governor, 
insisted that very considerable changes of government, all 
in the direction of coercion, were necessary, in order to 
make the conceited colonists know their place and to keep 


them in it. These letters no doubt made their due im- 
pression upon Whately and upon Grenville. Letters like 
them were always being despatched across the Atlantic by 
governors and deputy governors to persons of importance 
in England, pointing out how ungrateful the colonists 
were for their many blessings, and what a good thing it 
would be for them if a few of these blessings were taken 
away. These letters had their influence upon the persons 
of importance to whom they were addressed. They formed 
the minds of ministers; they fed the fancies of the King. 
They served to bolster up the singular system of ignorance 
and incapacity which went by the name of colonial ad- 

Of course Hutchinson and Oliver and their kind thought 
that they were only writing for ministerial eyes, that they 
were only whispering into royal ears. They no doubt as- 
sumed that their letters would be safely pigeon-holed, or 
still more safely destroyed. It did not occur to them that 
they ever could or would be made public, and by their pub- 
lication thrust new weapons into the hands of the men 
whose liberties they were so zealous to suppress. But the 
unexpected often, if not always, happens. Whately died 
in the June of 1772, and after his death the letters he had 
received, and preserved, from Hutchinson and Oliver, were 
somehow stolen. We shall probably never know how they 
were stolen or by whom. It was claimed in later years, but 
not proved, that Dr. Hugh Williamson was the means of 
transmitting the letters to Franklin. All that we know 
for certain is that they came into the hands of Benjamin 
Franklin, and that Benjamin Franklin believed it to be 
his duty as agent for Massachusetts to make them known 
to the colony he represented. He was only allowed to do 
so under certain strict and definite conditions. The source 
from which they came was to be kept absolutely secret. 
They were only to be shown to a few leading colonists ; they 
were to be neither printed nor copied, and they were to be 
returned promptly. Franklin accepted these conditions, 
and as far as was in his power observed them. The source 
from which they came was kept a secret, is still a secret. 


But Franklin could not very well enforce, perhaps did not 
very greatly desire to enforce, those conditions upon his 
friends on the other side of the Atlantic. He pointed out 
that, though they might not be printed or copied, they 
might be talked about. And talked about they were. The 
knowledge of them set all Boston afire with excitement, 
filling the colonists with indignation and their opponents 
Avith dismav. The Massachusetts House of Assemblv car- 
ried by a large majority a petition to the King, calling for 
the removal of Hutchinson and Oliver as betrayers of their 
trust and enemies to the colony. Hutchinson, soon made 
aware of the publicity given to the correspondence, demand- 
ed to see the letters that were said to come from him. The 
Assembly permitted this, but accorded the permission with 
a show of distrust that was in itself the crudest affront. A 
small committee was appointed to take the letters to 
Hutchinson and to show him the letters in their presence, 
the implication being that Hutchinson was not to be trust- 
ed wdth the letters except in the presence of witnesses. 
Hutchinson had to submit to the insult; he had also to 
admit that the letters were genuine. He gave, or was un- 
derstood to give, permission that the letters might be made 
public. The letters were promptly made public. Thou- 
sands of copies were struck off and scattered broadcast all 
over the continent. 

England was scarcely less excited than America by the 
publication. There was a general curiosity to know how 
the letters had been purloined and how they had been made 
public. The Whately to whom the letters had been ad- 
dressed had a brother, William Whately. William 
Whately seems to have been alarmed lest it might be 
thought that he was in any way instrumental to the pro- 
mulgation of the letters. He diverted any suspicion from 
himself by accusing another man of the theft. This other 
man was a Mr. John Temple, who had once had an oppor- 
tunity of examining the papers of the late Mr. Whately. 
Temple immediately challenged his accuser; a duel was 
fought, and as far as ordeal of battle went, Temple made 
good his innocence, for he wounded William Whately. At 


this moment Franklin came forward. He admitted that 
llie letters had come into his hands, and that he had 
despatched them to America. He declined to say how they 
did come into his hands, but he solemnly asserted the ab- 
solute innocence of both Temple and Whately of any 
knowledge of or complicity in the transaction. A storm 
of popular anger broke upon Franklin. He was regarded 
as a criminal, spoken of as a criminal, publicly denounced 
as a criminal. Wedderburn, the Solicitor-General, was 
his denunciator, and he chose for the place of his attack 
the House of Commons, and for the hour the occasion of 
the presentation of the petition of Massachusetts for the 
removal of Hutchinson and Oliver. 

Wedderburn assailed Franklin in a speech whose ability 
was only surpassed by its ferocity. In the presence of an 
illustrious audience, that numbered among its members 
some of the most famous men of that time or of any time, 
AVedderburn directed against Franklin a fluency of in- 
vective, a fury of reproach that was almost splendid in its 
unbridled savagery. The Privy Councillors, with one ex- 
ception, rocked with laughter and revelled in applause as 
the Solicitor-General pilloried the agent from the colony 
of Massachusetts Bay as a thief, well-nigh a murderer, a 
man lost to all honor, all decency. The one grave excep- 
tion to the grinning faces of the Privy Councillors was the 
face of Lord North. He sat fixed in rigidity, too well 
aware of all that depended upon the glittering slanders of 
Wedderburn to find any matter of mirth in them. Only 
one other man in all that assembly of genius and rank and 
fame and wit carried a countenance as composed as that 
of Lord North, and that was the face of the man whom 
Wedderburn was bespattering with his ready venom. Ben- 
jamin Franklin, dressed in a gala suit, unlike the sober 
hal)it that was familiar with him, stood at the bar of the 
House and listened with an unconquerable calm to all that 
Wedderburn had to say. If it was the hour of Wedder- 
burn's triumph, it was not the hour of Franklin's humilia- 
tion. He held his head high and suffered no emotion to 
betray itself while Wedderburn piled insult upon insult. 


and the majority of his hearers reeled in a rapture of ap- 
proval. But if Franklin listened with an unmoved coun- 
tenance, the words of Wedderburn were not without their 
effect upon him. He was human and the slanders stung 
him, but we may well believe that they stung him most as 
the representative of the fair and flourishing colony whose 
petition was treated with the same insolence that ex- 
hausted itself in attacking his honor and his name. 

The clothes philosophy of Diogenes Teufelsdroch is 
readily annotated by history. There are garments that 
have earned an immortalitv of fame. Such an one is the 
sky-blue coat which Eobespierre wore at the height of his 
power when he celebrated the festival of the Supreme 
Being, and in the depths of his degradation when a few 
days later he was carried to his death. Such an one is the 
gala coat of flowered Manchester velvet which Franklin 
wore in his day of degradation when he was compelled to 
listen with a tranquil visage and a throbbing heart to the 
fluent invective of Wedderburn, and which was laid away 
and left unused through five tremendous years, not to be 
taken from its retirement until Franklin wore it again 
on the day of his greatest triumph, when he signed that 
treaty with England which gave his country her place 
among the nations of the world. Battles had been fought 
and won in the saddest of civil wars, the trained and sea- 
soned troops of Europe had learned the lesson of defeat 
from levies of farmers, English generals had surrendered 
to men of their own race and their own speech, and a new 
flag floated over a new world between the day when Frank- 
lin went smartly dressed to Westminster to hear Wedder- 
burn do his best and worst, and the day when Franklin 
went smartly dressed to Paris as the representative of an 
independent America. Franklin's flowered coat is no less 
eloquent than Caesar's mantle. 

The man whom the Court party employed to deal the 
death-blow to colonial hopes, and to overwhelm with in- 
sult and abuse the colonial agent, was a countryman and 
intimate friend of the detested Bute. Alexander Wedder- 
burn attained the degree of eloquence with which he now 


assailed Franklin at a cost of scarcely less pains than those 
devoted by Demosthenes to conquer his defects. He had 
a strong and a harsh Scotch accent, and neither the accent 
nor the race was grateful to the London of the eighteenth 
century. Wedderburn's native tenacity enabled him in a 
great degree to overcome his native accent. He toiled 
under Thomas Sheridan and he toiled under Macklin the 
actor to attain the genuine English accent, and his labors 
did not go unrewarded. Boswell writes that he got rid 
of the coarse part of his Scotch accent, retaining only so 
much of the " native wood-note wild " as to mark his 
countrv, " which if any Scotchman should affect to fororet 
I should heartily despise him," so that by degrees he 
formed a mode of speaking to which Englishmen did not 
deny the praise of eloquence. Successful as an orator, 
secure in the patronage of the royal favorite, Wedderburn 
sought the society of the wits and was not welcomed by 
them. Johnson disliked him for his defective colloquial 
powers and for his supple readiness to go on errands for 
Bute. Foote derided him as not only dull himself, but the 
cause of dulness in others. Boswell, who admired his 
successful countryman, assumed that his unfavorable ap- 
pearances in the social world were due to a cold affectation 
of consequence, from being reserved and stiff. The scorn 
of Johnson and the sneers of Foote would not have saved 
him from oblivion; he owes his unlovely notoriety to his 
assault upon Franklin, with all its disastrous consequences. 
Many 3'^ears later, when Wedderburn was Lord Lough- 
borough and Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, a hu- 
morous editor dedicated to him ironically a new edition 
of Franklin's " Rules for Eeducing a Great Empire to a 
Small One." 

The English Government was now resolved to show 
that it would temporize no longer with the factious colo- 
nists. If in a spirit of rash and ill-repaid good-nature it 
had repealed certain taxes, at least it would repeal no 
more. The tax on tea existed; the tax on tea would be 
enforced; the tax on tea should be respected. The East 
India Company had a vast quantity of tea which it desired 


to sell. It obtained from the Government the permission 
to export the tea direct to America instead of being obliged 
to let it pass through the hands of English merchants. 
Under such conditions the tea could be sold very cheaply 
indeed in the colonies, and the Government hoped and be- 
lieved that this very cheapness would be a temptation too 
keen for the patriotism of a tea-drinking city to withstand. 
If the King and the East India Company were resolved 
to force their tea upon the American colonists, the Ameri- 
cans were no less stubborn in their resolution to refuse it. 
The tea-ships sailed the seas, weathered the winds and 
waves of the Atlantic, only to be, as it were, wrecked in 
port. The colonists in general, and especially the colo- 
nists of Massachusetts, were resolved not to suffer the tea 
to be landed, for they knew that once landed it could be 
sold so cheaply that it would be hard for many to resist 
the temptation to buy it. Every effort was made to pre- 
vent the importation. In many cases the consignees were 
persuaded, not wholly without menace, to make public en- 
gagement to relinquish their appointments. Pilots were 
advised as patriots to lend no aid to the threatened im- 
portation; indeed, it was pretty plainly hinted to some of 
them that they would best prove their patriotism by using 
their especial knowledge in such a way as would most 
effectually prevent it. Boston set the example of self- 
denial and of resistance. In the December of 1773 three 
ships laden with tea arrived in her port. Their captains 
soon heard of the hostility to their mission, were soon 
warned of the dangers that awaited them. Alarmed at 
their perils, the captains declared their perfect willingness 
to return with their cargoes to England if they were per- 
mitted to do so by the Board of Customs and the persons 
to whom the tea had been consigned. But the willingness 
of the captains was of no avail. The consignees insisted 
that the tea should be delivered to them, and neither the 
Custom House nor the Governor would grant the cap- 
tains permission to return. But if the consignees and the 
authorities were resolved that the tea should be landed, 
the citizens of Boston were equally resolved that it should 


not. Their fantastic metliod of giving force to their reso- 
lution has made it famous. In the dusk of a December 
e\ening the three tea-ships were suddenly boarded by what 
seemed to be a small army of Mohawk Indians in all the 
terror of their war-paint. These seeming Indians were in 
reality serious citizens of Boston, men of standing, wealth, 
and good repute, wearers of names that had long been 
known and honored in the Commonwealth. The fright- 
ful paint, the gaudy feathers, the moccasins and wampum, 
the tomahawks, scalping-knives, and pistols that seemed 
so alarming to the peaceful captains of the boarded ships 
were but the fantastic accoutrements that concealed the 
placid faces and the portly persons of many a respectable 
and respected Boston burgess. 

The plan had been schemed out by a conclave of citizens 
around a bowl of punch in Court Street, and was carried 
out with a success that was no less remarkable than its 
peacefulness. The trappings of the red man concealed 
the identity of many prominent citizens, friends of John 
Hancock and Samuel Adams, their rivals in ability and 
their peers in energy. The sham savages were so numerous 
and so determined that no resistance was offered by the 
captains or the crews of the vessels. The shore was picket- 
ed with sentinels ready to resist any interference on the 
part of any representatives of royal authority. There was 
no interference. The conspirators of the punch-bowl and 
those who obeyed their instructions kept their secret so 
close, and did their work so quickly, that those in authority 
knew nothing about the business until the business was 
happily over. In about two hours the entire cargo of the 
three tea-ships was dragged out of the hold and flung into 
the sea. The patriotic citizen who had asked significantly 
if tea could be made with salt water was satisfactorily 
answered by the Mohawks when they cast overboard the 
last of their three hundred and forty-two chests, and pre- 
pared to disappear as rapidly and as mysteriously as they 
had come. During the whole adventure only one man was 
hurt, Avho tried to secrete some of the tea about his person, 
and who was given a drubbing for his pains. The Mo- 

17*73. AFTER TOE BOSTON^ " TEA-PA RTT." 161 

hawks scattered and disappeared, washed their faces, rolled 
up their blankets, concealed their pistols and axes, and as 
many reputable Boston citizens returned to their homes. 
It is related that some of them on their way home passed 
by a house in w^hich Admiral Montague was spending the 
evening. ^Montague heard the noise of the trampling feet, 
opened the window and looked out upon the fantastic pro- 
cession. No doubt some news of what had happened had 
reached him, for he is reported to have called out : " Well, 
boys, you have had a fine night for your Indian caper. But 
mind, you've got to pay the fiddler yet." One of the Mo- 
hawk leaders looked up and answered promptly: "Oh, 
never mind, squire. Just come out here, if you please, and 
we'll settle the bill in two minutes." The admiral con- 
sidered the odds were against him, that the joke had gone 
far enough. He closed the window, leaving the bill to be 
settled by whoso thought fit, and the laughing savages 
sw^ept on to their respectable wigwams. If some very repu- 
table citizens found a few leaves of tea in their shoes when 
they took them off that night, they said nothing about it, 
and nobody was the wiser. So ended the adventure of the 
Boston Tea-party, which was but the prologue to advent- 
ures more memorable and more momentous. We learn 
that at least one of these masquerading Indians survived 
to so late a date as the ^larch of 1846. Men now living 
may have clasped hands with Henry Purkitt and David 
Kinnison and heard from their own lips the story of a 
deed that enraged a King, offended Chatham, was disap- 
proved of by George Washington, and was not disapproved 
of by Burke. 

The news of the Boston Tea-party reached London on 
January 19, 1774, and was public property on the 21st. 
Other news little less unpleasant soon followed. At 
Charleston tea was only landed to lie rotting in damp 
cellars, not an ounce of it to be bousjht or sold. In Phila- 
delphia a proclamation of December 27, 1773, announced 
that " THE TEA-SHIP being arrived, every Inhabitant 
who wishes to preserve the Liberty of America is desired 
to meet at the STATE-HOUSE, This Morning, precisely 

VOL. III.— 6 


at TEN O'Clock, to advise what is best to be done on this 
alarming Crisis." " What was best to be clone " proved 
to be to compel the tea-ship to return at once with its 
cargo to England. New York refused to allow the tea- 
ship " Nanc}^ " to enter the harbor, and if some tea was 
eventually landed under the cannon of a man-of-war, it 
was only to be locked up as in Charleston, and to be left 
to lie unused. The bad news was received in England 
with an unreasoning fury by those whose fault it w^as, and 
by those who knew nothing at all about the matter ; with a 
grave indignation by those who, like Pitt, were as resolute 
to support the supremacy of England as to plead for jus- 
tice to her colonies; with despair by those who dreamed of 
an honorable and abiding union between the two peoples; 
and with applause by those w^io admired any protest 
against injustice, however vehement and irregular. 

It is difficult, in reading the del)ates on the troubles in 
America, to credit the sanity of the majority of the 
speakers. These advocated a colonial policy that should 
only have commended itself to a session of Bedlamites, and 
clamored for a treatment ol the colonists that might well 
have shocked the susceptibilities of a savage. No Vir- 
ginian planter could be more disdainful of the rights of 
his slaves, or more resentful at any attempt to assert them, 
than the average member of Parliament w^as disdainful 
of the rights of the American colonists and resentful at 
their assertion. The English country gentlemen who ap- 
plauded the ministers and who howled at Burke seemed to 
be absolutely unconscious that the men of Massachusetts 
and the men of New York were not merely like themselves 
made in the same image, but brethren of their own race, 
blood of their blood and bone of their bone, children of 
the same stock whose resistance to oppression was recorded 
at Runnymede and Worcester, at the Boyne and at Cul- 
loden. Even if the colonists had been the knaves and fools 
and cowards that the Parliamentary majority appeared to 
think them, the action of that majority was of a kind 
eminently calculated to lend strength to the most feeble 
spirit and courage to the most craven heart. The coarse 


contempt, the brutal menace which were the distinguishing 
features of all that ill-timed oratory might well have goaded 
into resistance men who had been slaves for generations till 
servility had grown a habit. Yet this contempt and 
menace were addressed to men trained by harsh experiences 
to be stubborn in defence and sturdy in defiance, men who 
had won their liberty from the sea and the wilderness, who 
were as tenacious of their rights and as proud of their 
privileges as they were tenacious of the soil which they 
had wrested from the red man and the wolf, and proud of 
the stately cities which had conquered the forest and the 
swamp. It was the descendants of Miles Standish and 
John Smith, of Endicott and Bradford and Underbill and 
Winslow whom the Squire Westerns of Westminster were 
ready to insult and were eager to enslave. 

It must, however, be remembered that even men who had 
advocated the claims of the colonies were, or professed to 
be, shocked at the daring deed of the men of Boston. Dean 
Tucker declared that mutinous colonies were no use to 
England, and had better be allowed to depart. Chatham 
found the action of the Boston people criminal, prompted 
by passions and wild pretences. In America George 
Washington disapproved of the exploit. 

The East India Company, pressed by the pinch of finan- 
cial difficulties, clamored for a revenge that the King was 
resolved to give them. Under his instigation Lord North, 
in the beginning of 1774, introduced the famous measure 
for closing the port of Boston against all commerce. The 
Bill declared that " in the present condition of the town 
and harbor the commerce of his ^tajesty's subjects cannot 
be safely carried on there." It was accordingly asserted 
to be " expedient that the officers of his Majesty's Customs 
should be forthwith removed from the said town." It was 
enacted that " from and after the first day of June, 1774, 
it shall not be lawful for any person or persons to lade, or 
cause to be laden, or put off from any quay, wharf, or other 
place within the town of Boston, or in or upon any part 
of the shore of the bay, commonly called the harbor of 
Boston, into any ship, vessel, boat, etc., any goods, wares, 


or mcrcliniidiou whatsoever ... or to take up, discharge, 
01 cause or procure to be taken up or discharged within 
tlie town, out of any boat, lighter, ship, etc., any goods, 
wares, or merchandise whatsoever . . . under pain of the 
forfeiture of the goods and merchandise and of the boat,'' 
and so on, in a long and drastic measure practically in- 
tended to ruin Boston. This was what the Government 
thought it well to describe by the word " expedient." This 
was not all. Comprehensive alterations of the laws of the 
province followed. The charter of Massachusetts was 
changed. The council for the province, which had hitherto 
been chosen by the people, was now to be chosen by the 
Crown, and the judges of the province were to be nomi- 
nated by the Crown. Another measure authorized the 
Governor to send persons implicated in the disturbances to 
England for trial. Boston and the province were indeed 
to be heavily punished and sternly brought to their senses. 
The King and the King's ministers had hoped fondly, 
in the old as well as the new sense of the word, that their 
action towards the port of Boston would effectually hum- 
ble the spirit and crush the opposition of that mutinous 
city. Their scheme was founded upon a nice calculation 
of the innate baseness of human nature. They argued that 
the closing of the port of Boston would turn the stream of 
her commerce in the direction of other cities, which would 
be only too glad to enrich themselves at the expense of 
their disabled comrade. While they believed that the pun- 
ishment of Boston would thus breed a selfish disunion in 
the province of ^lassachusetts, they trusted also that the 
spectacle of the severe punishment meted out to Massa- 
chusetts would have its wholesome deterring effect upon 
other colonies and destroy at once whatever desire for 
union might exist among them. The King and the King's 
ministers were the more deceived. Their ingenious scheme 
produced a result precisely the opposite of that which they 
so confidently anticipated. The other ports of Massa- 
chusetts did not seize with avidity the opportunity for 
plunder afforded them by the humiliation of Boston. The 
other colonies were not driven into discord by the sight of 

1774. GExVERAL GAGE. 165 

the punishment of Massachusetts. On the contrary, the 
ports of Massachusetts refused to take advantage of the 
degradation of Boston, and the colonies were urged, and 
almost forced, into union by what they regarded as the 
despotic treachery of the English Crown. The most de- 
voted friend, the most enthusiastic advocate of the rights 
of the American colonists could scarcely have devised bet- 
ter means of drawing them together and welding them 
into a solid fellowship than those which had been employed 
by George the Third and his advisers for the purpose of 
keeping them apart forever. 

An immense number of copies of the Boston Port Bill 
were sent with great rapidity all over the colonies. In the 
fine phrase which we must needs believe to be Burke's, these 
had the effect which the poets ascribe to the Fury's torch; 
they set the countries through which they passed in a flame. 
At Boston and Xew York " the populace had copies of the 
Bill printed upon mourning paper with a black border, 
which they cried about the streets under the title of a 
barbarous, cruel, bloody, and inhuman murder." In other 
places the Bill was publicly burned. All over the Conti- 
nent great meetings were held, at which, with more or less 
vehemence of speech, but with a common enthusiasm and 
a common indignation, the Bill was denounced, and the 
determination to resist it defiantly asserted. When Gen- 
eral Gage arrived on his mission of administration he 
found not merely the colony of Massachusetts, but the 
whole continent in an uproar. He had to deal with a vast 
majority of the people who were in proclaimed resistance 
to the Act, and who only differed in the extreme of resist- 
ance to which they were prepared immediately to go, and 
a minority who either approved or did not altogether dis- 
approve of the Act. Gage was condemned to the govern- 
ment not of a cowed, humbled, and friendless province, 
but of a raging nation, frantic at the infringement of its 
rights, and sustained in the struggle it was resolved to 
make by the cheer and aid of a league of sister nations. 
The flame from the Fury's torch had spread with a ven- 
geance. Gage was a brave man, an able man, an honor- 


able man ; but for Alexander he was a little over-parted. 
The difliculties he had to encounter were too great for him 
to grapple with; the work he was meant to do too vast for 
his hands or the hands of any man. He was sent out to 
sway a chastened and degraded province ; he found himself 
opposed by a defiant people, exalted by injustice and ani- 
mated by attack. 




In the early spring that followed upon the winter when 
the Mohawks of Boston made tea with salt water, at a 
time when politicians were busy fighting over the Boston 
Port Bill, and neither side dreamed of the consequences 
that could come of a decision, one of the gentlest and 
eweetest writers of the English speech passed quietly, and 
somewhat unhappily, away from a world he had done so 
much to make happy. With Oliver Goldsmith an epoch 
of literature came to an end, as the year that saw his death 
ended an epoch in the history of the world. The char- 
acteristic literature of the eighteenth century, the litera- 
ture that began with Swift and Addison, and Steele and 
Pope; that boasted among its greatest the names of Sterne 
and Richardson, Smollett and Fielding, came to its close 
with the genius of Goldsmith. With the new conditions 
which were coming over the world a new literature was 
to be created. Wordsworth w^as a child of four, at Cocker- 
mouth; Coleridge was a child of four, at Bristol; over in 
Germany a young poet, whose name was unknown in Eng- 
land, had been much influenced by Goldsmith's immortal 
story, and was in his turn and time to have a very pro- 
found influence over the literature of Goldsmith's adopted 
country. The year of Goldsmith's death was the year in 
which the young Goethe published those " Sorrows of 
Werther " which marked the birth of a new form of ex- 
pression in art. 

Goldsmith was born in Ireland, at Pallas, in the county 
of Longford, in the early November of 1728. He lived 
for over forty-five years a life of poverty, of vagrancy, of 
squalor, of foolish dissi2)ation, of grotesque vanity, of an 

168 A niSTORY OF THE FOUR GEORGES. ch. liu. 

industry as amazing as his improvidence, of a native idle- 
ness that was successfully combated by a tireless industry, 
of an amazing simplicity that was only rivalled by his 
amazing genius. There were a great many contrasting and 
seemingly incompatible elements in Goldsmith's queer 
composition, but his faults were not of a kind to prevent 
men from finding him lovable, and, whatever his faults 
were, they left no stain upon his writings. 

The writings of Goldsmith are distinguished in English 
literature, and, indeed, in the literature of the world, by 
their sweet pure humor, fresh and clear and sparkling as 
a fountain whose edges the satyr's hoof has never trampled. 
They charm by their humanity, by their tender charity, by 
the nobility of their lesson, a nobility only heightened by 
the intense sympathy with the struggles, and sorrows, and 
errors of mankind A new St. Martin of letters, he was 
ever ready to share his mantle of pity with the sad and 
sinning. He had himself suffered so much, and been so 
tempted and tested, and had retained throughout his trials 
so much of the serenity of a child, that all his writings 
breathe compassion for frailty and failure with something 
of a schoolboy sense of brotherhood which softens even 
his satire. The flames of London's fiery furnace had 
blazed and raged about him, but he passed through them 
unconsumed. The age in which he lived was not an age 
of exalted purity, the city wherein he dwelt was scarcely 
saintly. He lived in some of the most evil days of the 
eighteenth century, but his writings and his life escaped 
pollution. He was not a saint, indeed; he was a spend- 
thrift and he loved his glass, but he was never tainted with 
tlie servile sins of cities. Through all the weltering horror 
of Hogarth's London we seem to see him walk with some- 
thing of the freshness of his boyhood still shining on his 
face. The reflection of the Irish skies was too bright upon 
his eyes to let them be dimmed by the squalor and the 
sliame of a squalid and shameful city. 

With the true instinct of his fine nature he made his 
friends and companions among the wisest and highest of 
his time. His intimates and companions were Edmund 


Burke, and Dr. Johnson, and Sir Joshua Reynolds. He 
had women friends too, as wisely chosen as the men — 
women w^ho were kind to him and admired him, women 
whose kindness and admiration were worth the winning, 
women whose friendship brightened and soothed a life 
that was darkened and vexed enough. Mary Horneck and 
her sister were the stars of his life, his heroines, his idols, 
his ideals. He has made Marv Horneck immortal as the 
" Jessamy Bride." In his hours of poverty he was cheered 
by the thought of her; while he lived he worshipped her, 
and when he died a lock of his hair was taken from his 
coffin and given to her. Thackeray tells a touching little 
story of the Jessamy Bride. She lived long after the death 
of the man of genius who adored her, lived well into the 
nineteenth century, and " Hazlitt saw her, an old lady, 
but beautiful still, in Northcote's painting-room, who told 
the eager critic how proud she was always that Goldsmith 
had admired her." 

Goldsmith was a companionable being and loved all 
company that was not vicious and depraved. He could be 
happy at the club in the society of the great thinkers and 
teachers and wits of the time. He could be more than 
happy at Barton, in the society of Mary and her sister. 
But he could be happy too, in far humbler, far less roman- 
tic fellowship. " 1 am fond of amusement," he declares 
in one of his most delightful essays, " in whatever com- 
pany it is to be found, and wit, though dressed in rags, is 
ever pleasing to me." There was plenty of wit dressed in 
rags drifting about the London of that day. Men of 
genius slept on bulkheads and beneath arches, and starved 
for want of a guinea, or haunted low taverns, or paced St. 
James's Square all night in impecunious couples for sheer 
need of a lodging, cheering each other's supperless mood 
with political conversations and declarations that, let come 
what might come, they would never desert the Ministry. 
But Goldsmith unearthed men of genius whose names 
nobody ever heard of, and studied them and made merry 
with them, and transferred them to his pages for us to 
make merry with more than a century after Goldsmith 


fell asleep. We may suspect that Goldsmith never really 
found tliose wonderful beggars he chronicles. He did not 
discover them as Cabot discovered America; he is their 
inventor, as the fancy of poets invented the Fortunate 

Goldsmith's strolling player is as real as Richard Sav- 
age, with whom he is contemporary, and it must be ad- 
mitted that he is a more presentable personage. What a 
jolly philosophy is his about the delights of beggary ! It 
has all the humor of Eabelais with no touch of the Tou- 
raine grossness. It has something of the wisdom of Au- 
relius, only clad in homespun instead of the purple. The 
philosophy of contentment was never more merrily nor 
more whimsically expressed. A synod of sages could not 
formulate a scheme in praise of poverty more impressive 
than the contagious humor of his light-hearted merriment. 
The strolling player has the best of the argument, but he 
has it because he is speaking with the persuasive magic of 
the tongue of Oliver Goldsmith. 

The same pervading cheerfulness, the same sunny phi- 
losophy, which is, however, by no means the philosophy of 
Pangloss, informs all his work. Beau Tibbs boasting in 
his garret; Dr. Primrose in Newgate; the good-natured 
man, seated between two bailiffs, and trying to converse 
with his heart's idol as if nothing had happened; Mr. 
Hardcastle, foiled for the five-hundredth time in the tale 
of Old Grouse in the Gun Room; each is an example of 
Goldsmith's method and of Goldsmith's manner. If Gold- 
smith did not enjoy while he lived all the admiration, all 
the rewards that ])elonged of right to his genius, the 
generations that have succeeded have made amends for 
the errors of their ancestors. " She Stoops to Conquer " 
is still the most successful of the stock comedies. If " The 
Good-Natured Man " can scarcely be said to have kept the 
stage, it is still the delight of the student in his closet. 
What satires are better known than the letters of the 
" Citizen of the World " ? What spot on the map is more 
familiar than Sweet Auburn ? As for the " Vicar of 
Wakefield," what profitable words could now be added to 


its praise ? It has conquered the world, it is dear to every 
country and known in every language, it has taken its place 
by unquestionable right with the masterpieces of all time. 

" Dr. Goldsmith," said his most famous friend of the 
man who was then lying in the Temple earth — " Dr. Gold- 
smith was wild, sir, but he is so no more." This epitaph 
has been quoted a thousand times, but it must in no sense 
be taken as a summing-up of the dead man's career. It was 
a rebuke, justly administered, to the critic who at such a 
moment could have the heart to say that Oliver Goldsmith 
had been wild. Dr. Johnson, who uttered the rebuke, put 
the same thought even more profoundly in a letter ad- 
dressed to Bennet Langton shortly after Goldsmith's death. 
In this letter he announces Goldsmith's death, speaks of his 
" folly of expense," and concludes by saying, " But let not 
his frailties be remembered; he was a very great man." 
These simple words are infinitely more impressive than 
the magniloquence of the epitaph which Johnson wrote 
on Goldsmith. 

Goldsmith lived in London and he died in London, and 
he lies buried in the precincts of the Temple. The noise, 
and rattle, and roar of London rave daily about his grave. 
Around it rolls the awful music of a great city that has 
grown and swollen and extended its limits and multiplied 
its population out of all resemblance to that little London 
where Goldsmith lived and starved and made merry, and 
was loved, and dunned, and sorrowed for. The body that 
first drew breath among the pleasant Longford meadows, 
which seem to stretch in all directions to touch the sky, 
lies at rest within the humming, jostling, liberties of the 
Temple. It is perhaps fitting that the grave of one who 
all his life loved men and rejoiced so much in companion- 
ship should be laid in a place where the foot of man is 
almost always busy, where silence, when it comes at all, 
comes only with the night. 

There is not a space in the scope of this history to deal, 
otherwise than incidentally, with the literature of Eng- 
land in the eighteenth century. The whole Georgian era, 
from its dawn to its dusk, is rich in splendid names in let- 


tcrs as in art. 1'he great inheritance from the Augustan 
age of Anne, the anguish of Grub Street, the evolution of 
the novel, the eloquence of the pulpit and the l)ar, the 
triumphs of science, the controversies of scholars, the fort- 
unes of the (Iranui, the speculations of philosophy, the 
vacillations of the pamphleteer, the judgments of the 
critics, the achievements of historians — these are themes 
whose intimate consideration is outside the range of this 
work's purpose. All that is possible is here and there to 
linger a little in the company of some dear and famous 
figure — a Swift, a Johnson, a Goldsmith, a Sheridan — 
who stands above his fellows in the world's renown or in 
our individual affection, who played while he lived his 
conspicuous part on the great stage of public life, or who 
helped conspicuously to influence public thought. The 
selection is, within these limitations, inevitably arbitrary, 
and is given frankly as such. Certain names assert them- 
selves masterfullv, and of these Goldsmith's is one of the 
most masterful. He added images to daily life and com- 
mon thought as Bunyan did or Shakespeare. There is 
no more need to explain Dr. Primrose than there is to 
explain ;\rr. Facing-both-ways, and if Beau Tibbs is only 
less familiar as Osric, Tony Lumpkin is to the full as 
familiar as Falstaif. Goldsmith himself is the lovable 
type of a class that was often unlovely in the eighteenth 
century, the needy man of letters. If he has his lodging 
in the Grub Street of Dreams, his presence there brings 
sunlight into the squalid place, and an infinite humor, an 
infinite charity compensate royally for a little finite folly 
and finite vanity. In the great art he served and the great 
age he adorned Goldsmith stands, not alone, but apart, 
with the very human demigods. 




An English ministry and an English king were con- 
vinced that everything necessary to do for the suppression 
of the mutinous spirit in a turbulent but unwarlike people 
had been done. The existence of Boston as a trading port 
had been abolished; Carthage had been blotted out; there 
was an English army within the walls of Boston; there 
was an Ens^lish fleet in the Charles River. Who could 
doul)t that the cowardlv farmers whom Sandwich derided, 
and their leaders, the voluble lawyers whom Sandwich de- 
spised, would be cowed now into quiescence, only thankful 
that things were no worse? The best and wisest in Eng- 
land were among those who did doubt, but they were like 
Benedict in the play — nobody marked them, or at least 
nobody responsible for any control over the conduct of 
affairs. Official confidence was suddenly and rudely 
shaken. The lawyers proved to be men of deeds as well 
as of words. The disdained farmers showed that the de- 
scendants of the men who had fought with beasts and with 
Indians after the manner of Endicott and Standish had 
not degenerated in the course of a few generations. Over 
the Atlantic came news which made the Boston ^lassa- 
cre, the burning of the " Gaspee," and the Boston Tea- 
party, seem trivial and insignificant events. An astound- 
ed Ministry learned that a formal Congress of Represent- 
atives of the different colonies had been convened and had 
met in Philadelphia, and had drawn up a Declaration of 
Rights. Chatham admired and applauded their work. To 
the King and the King's ministers it was meaningless 
when it was not offensive. But the colonists showed that 
they could do more than meet in Congresses and draw up 


splendid State Papers. The next news was of acts of war. 
Gage schemed a raid upon the stores of powder and arms 
accumiihited by the disaffected colonists in Concord. Warn- 
ing of his plan was carried at night by a patriotic engraver 
named Paul Pevere to every hamlet within reach of a 
horse's ride. There was a skirmish at Lexington on the 
road to Concord between the King's troops and a body 
of minute-men, which resulted in the killing and wound- 
ing of many of the latter and the dispersal of their force. 
An expedition that began with what might in irony be 
termed a victory for the British arms ended in a disaster 
as tragic as it was complete. Concord forewarned had 
nothing to yield to the English soldiers who invaded her 
quiet streets; but the surrounding country, equally fore- 
warned, answered the invasion by sending bodies of armed 
farmers and minute-men from every point of the compass 
to the common centre of Concord. There was a sharp, 
short fight on Concord Bridge, w^hich ended in the repulse 
of the royal troops and the death of brave men on both 
sides. Then the British officer decided to retreat from 
Concord. It proved one of the most memorable retreats 
in history. From behind every tree, every bowlder, every 
wall, every hedge, enemies trained in the warfare of the 
wilderness poured their fire upon the retiring troops It 
seemed to one of the officers engaged in that memora])le 
fight as if the skies rained down foes upon them, unseen 
foes only made known by the accuracy of their marksman- 
ship and the pertinacity of their veiled pursuit. All the 
way from Concord the retiring troops fought in vain with 
an enemy that was seldom seen, but whose presence was 
everywhere manifested by the precision of his aim and the 
tale of victims that followed each volley. The retreat was 
becoming: a rout when reinforcements sent out from Bos- 
ton under the command of Lord Percy stayed an actual 
stampede. But it could not stay the retreat nor avert 
defeat. T^ord Percy, who had marched out with his bands 
playing " Yankee Doodle," in mockery of the Americans, 
had to retreat in his turn with no mocking music, carry- 
ing with him the remnant of the invaders of Concord. He 


and his force did not get within touch of Boston and the 
protection of the guns of the fleet a moment too soon. 
Had a large body of insurgents, who came hurrying in to 
help their brethren, arrived on the field a little earlier. 
Lord Percy and his command must inevitably have been 
made prisoners of war. As it was, this one day's business 
had given success and the confidence that comes of success 
to the raw colonists, and had inflicted a crushing defeat 
upon a body of soldiers who had been led to believe that 
the sight of their scarlet coats would act like a charm to 
tame their untutored opponents. 

Gage only recovered from the shock of this disaster to 
realize that Boston was invested by an insurgent army. 
The victors of the fight and flight from Concord were 
rapidly reinforced by bodies of men from all parts of the 
country ; their ranks were hourly swelled by levies roughly 
armed but stubbornly resolved. Unpleasant facts forced 
themselves thick and fast upon Gage's notice. But yes- 
terday, as it were, he had imagined that the mere presence 
of the forces under his command was sufficient to overaAve 
the colonists and settle any show of insubordination for- 
ever; to-day he had to swallow in shame and anger a stag- 
gering defeat. Still Gage did nothing and his enemies ac- 
cumulated. Royal reinforcements arrived under Bur- 
goyne, Clinton, and Howe, to do nothing in their turn. 
But the peasants they despised were not idle and would 
not allow them to be idle. The English general woke up 
one morning to find that under cover of night an impor- 
tant point of vantage overlooking the town of Boston had 
been occupied and roughly fortified by the rebels. The 
citizen soldiers who had gathered together to defend their 
liberties had stolen a march upon the English general. 
They had occupied the rising ground of Breed Hill, below 
Bunker's Hill, on the Charlestown side of the Charles 
River, and had hurriedly intrenched themselves there be- 
hind rude but efficient earthworks. Gage was resolved that 
the rebels should not remain long in their new position. 
Chance might have allotted them a scratch victory over a 
small body of men taken unawares in unfamiliar country 

176 A UlSTOKV UF TUE FuLK GKUKGES. ch. liv. 

and by unfamiliar methods of fighting. But here was a 
business familiar to the British soldier; here was work 
that he did well and that he loved to do. If the colonists 
really believed that they could hold Breed Hill against 
troops with whom the taking by storm of strong positions 
was a tradition, so much the worse for them. The order 
was given that the rebels must be cleared away from Breed 
Hill at once, and the welcome task was given to Lord 
Howe, in command of the flower of the forces in Boston. 
U is probable that Howe felt some pity for the rash and 
foolhardy men whose hopes it was his duty and his deter- 
mination to destroy. Confident that the enterprise would 
be as brief as it must be decisive, Howe prepared to as- 
sault, and the battle of Breed Hill began. 

The Breed Hill battle is one of the strangest and one of 
the bravest fights ever fought by men. On the one side 
were some hundreds of simple citizens, civilians, skilled as 
individuals in the use of the gun, and accustomed as 
volunteers, militia, and minute-men to something that 
might pass for drill and manoeuvre, officered and general- 
led by men who, like Warren and Greene, knew warfare 
only by the bookish theoric, or by men who, like Putnam 
and Pomeroy, had taken their baptism of fire and blood 
in frontier struggles with wild beast and wilder Indian. 
On the other side were some thousands of the finest troops 
in the world, in whose ranks victory was a custom, on 
whose banners the names of famous battles blazed. They 
were well trained, well armed, well equipped. They moved 
at the word of command with the monotonous precision 
and perfection of a machine. They were led by ofTicers 
whose temper had been tested again and again in the sharp 
experiences of war, men to whom the thought of defeat was 
as unfamiliar as the thought of fear. The contrast be- 
tween the two opposing forces was vividly striking in the 
very habiliments of the opponents. The men who were 
massed behind the breastworks of Breed Hill were inno- 
cent of uniform, of the bright attire that makes the sol- 
dier's life alluring, innocent even of any distinction be- 
tween officer and private, or, if the words seem too formal 


for so raw a force, between the men who were in command 
and the men who were commanded. The soldiers who were 
massed below, the force whose duty it was to march 
up the hill and sweep away the handful in hodden gray 
and black broadcloth who held it, glittered with all the 
bravery of color dear to the British army. Splendid in 
scarlet and white and gold, every buckle shining, every belt 
and bandolier as brightly clean as pipeclay could make it, 
the little army under Howe's command would have done 
credit to a parade in the Park or a field day at Windsor. 
The one side was as sad and sombre as a Puritan prayer- 
meeting; the other glowed with all the color and warmth 
of a military pageant. The holders of the hill had come 
from their farms and their fields in the homely working 
clothes they wore as they followed the plough or tended 
their cattle ; the townsmen among them came in the decent 
civic suits they wore behind their desks or counters. Few 
men's weapons were fellows in that roughly armed array. 
Each militant citizen carried his own gun, some favorite 
weapon, familiar from long practice in fowling, or from 
frequent service further afield against the bear, the panther, 
and the wolf. Some of the flint-locks were enormously 
long; many of them would have seemed extremely old- 
fashioned to an ordnance officer. But every gun was like 
an additional limb to those practised marksmen, who knew 
little of firing in platoons, but everything of the patient ac- 
curacy which gives the backwoodsman his unerring aim. 
The assailants carried the latest weapons approved of by 
the War Office, and manipulated them with the faultless 
unison and unswerving harmony that would have com- 
pelled the compliments of a commander-in-chief at a re- 
view. At the top of the hill were some sixteen hundred 
men, a mob of undisciplined sharpshooters, few of whom 
liad ever fired a shot in organized warfare. At the bot- 
tom of the hill were some four thousand of the finest 
troops in the world, stiffened with all the strength that 
prestige and practice could give them. It did not seem 
on the face of it a very eqiial combat; it did not seem to 
the English generals that it ought to take very long to 


march from tlie bottom to the top of the hill and make 
short work of the mutinous peasants on its summit. The 
best indeed that the mutinous peasants could hope for 
when the British were upon them was to be shot or bayo- 
neted as quickly as possible, for the terms of Gage's procla- 
mation directly threatened with the gallows every rebel 
taken with arms in his hands. 

But at Breed Hill, as at Concord, the unexpected came 
to pass. The British troops were unable to endure the 
destructive tire of the colonists. Again and again they 
advanced over the incline as calmly as if on parade ; again 
and again they reeled backward with shattered ranks, 
leaving grim piles of dead upon the fire-swept slope. The 
execution was terrible ; regiments that marched up the hill 
as if to certain victory fell back from it a mere remnant 
of themselves, leaving most of their men and almost all 
their officers behind. For awhile the fight was a succession 
of catastrophes to the force under Howe's command. It 
looked as if Breed Hill w^ould never be taken. But there 
came a time when the men who held it could hold it no 
longer. Their supply of powder began to run out, and 
with their means of keeping up their fire their power of 
holding their position came to an end. Then came a last 
charge of Howe's rallied forces, this time in the lightest 
of marching array, a last volley from behind the earth- 
works, and Breed Hill was in the hands of the British. 
It was captured at the last without much l:)loodshed, with- 
out much loss to its garrison. The smoke hung so thick 
about the enclosure where the rebels had held their own so 
long and so well that it was not easy for the bayonets of 
the conquerors to do much execution, and the defenders 
of Breed Hill slipped away for the most part under cover 
of the mist they themselves had made. Indeed, there was 
little inclination for pursuit on the part of the victors. 
They had done what they had been set to do, but they had 
done it at a cost which for the time made it impossible for 
them to attempt to pursue an advantage so dearly bought. 
They did not, could not know the strength of their enemy; 
they were content to hold the ground which had been won 


with such a fearful waste of British blood. Breed Hill 
was a nominal victory for the King; it was a real victory 
for the rebels, who had shown what an undisciplined force, 
composed of farmers, trappers, lawyers, shopkeepers, and 
divines, could do against the finest troops in the world. 

Already insurgent America had an army, and an army 
of investment. The rebels, whom Gage affected to despise 
almost as much as he was himself despised by General 
Burgoyne, were massed in numbers unknown to the loyal- 
ists before Boston, and the English soldiers were cooped up 
in the city they had crossed the seas to command. The 
colonial army was rude and rough, but earnest and reso- 
lute, and it had evolved generals of its own making, rough 
and rude as itself, but able, daring, and fearless. Israel 
Putnam, who killed a wolf once with his own hands in 
his wild youth, gripping it by the throat till he had choked 
its life out, had come to fight against the flag beneath 
which he had fought so well in the French wars. Na- 
thaniel Greene had flung down his military books and 
caught up the sword, had abandoned the theory for the 
practice, and was beginning to make a name. Benedict 
Arnold, after a life as varied, as shady, and as adventurous 
as that of any picaroon in a Spanish story, leaped into 
fame as a daring spirit by the way in which he and Ethan 
Allen, at the head of a mixed force of Vermonters and 
New Englanders, had taken Fort Ticonderoga, on the 
great lakes, by surprise, and had endowed the dawning 
army with its captured cannon. Prescott, the hero of 
Breed Hill, was now a veteran soldier; and the names of 
Artemas Ward, of Schuyler, of Pomeroy, Heath and 
Thomas, Sullivan and Montgomery, Wooster and Spencer 
were becoming more than mere names to Englishmen in 
Boston and in London. Two Englishmen held rank as 
generals in the crude colonial army — the adventurer 
Charles Lee, whom some foolish people believed to be the 
real Junius, and Horatio Gates. There were few thor- 
oughly worthless men in the young army, but it is painful 
to record that Lee and Gates were eminent among them. 
These were the generals of what was now to be called the 


Continental Army. Happy in most of them, happy in 
much, it was happiest of all in this: that it had for its 
commander-in-chief the noblest man, who was to prove 
the greatest soldier, then living in the world. 

When Braddock died, the hero of a hopeless fight and the 
martyr of his own folly, the funeral service was read over 
liis body by the young Virginian soldier who had fought 
by his side and had warned him against his rashness. To 
men in later years there seemed to be something prophetic, 
with the blended irony and pathos of prophecy, in the 
picture of that dead Englishman, his scarlet coat torn and 
bloody with so many wounds, lying in his grave while his 
American lieutenant read over him the words that com- 
mitted so much wasted courage to the earth. At the time 
and hour the thing signified no more than the price of a 
petty victory of allied French and Indians, which the Vir- 
ginian soldier was soon to avenge. After planting the 
banner of King George on the ruins of Fort Duquesne, 
Captain Washington sheathed his sword and retired from 
military into civil life, with as little likelihood as desire 
of ever carrying arms again. All he asked and all he an- 
ticipated was to live the tranquil life of a comfortable 
colonial gentleman. After a youth that had been vexed 
by many experiences of the passion of love he had married 
happily and wisely, and had settled down to a gracious 
rural life at Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potomac 
Eiver. He wished no better than to be a country gentleman, 
with a country gentleman's pleasures and pursuits — farm- 
ing, hunting, fishing — with a country gentleman's friend- 
ships for neighbors like himself. He was a dutiful servant 
of his State; he was a member of the Virginia Houses of 
Burgesses for fifteen years after the fall of Fort Duquesne, 
and though he seldom played any part in debate he com- 
manded the confidence and the esteem of his colleagues 
and of his fellow-citizens. He lived and enjoj^ed a peace- 
ful, honorable, useful, uneventful life, and might have 
lived it to its end in dignified obscurity if a rash and head- 
strong sovereign over-seas had not found ministers too 
servile or too foolish to say him nay. 


The Continental Congress, conscious of Washington's 
ability, offered him the command of its improvised army. 
Washington accepted the duty, well aware of its gravity, 
its danger, its awful responsibility. He refused any pay 
beyond his actual expenses, and he entered upon a struggle 
whose difficulties were not all or nearly all due to the 
enemy in the sternest and noblest sense of duty to his 
countrymen and to the principles of liberty. At first, in his 
own words, he loathed the idea of independence. He only 
took up arms to defend cherished rights; the day was not 
yet, though the day was not far off, when the Virginian 
soldier would renounce his allegiance to the King whose 
commission he had carried and to the country from which 
his race stemmed. Washington's military genius soon 
showed itself in the use he made of the loose, incoherent, 
disorganized mass of men which was called the Continental 
Army. It was fortunate for the Continental cause that the 
English generals, penned up within the walls of Boston, 
had little idea of the obstacles Washington had to over- 
come, the opposition he had to encounter, the sore straits 
to which the want of everything essential to a besieging 
army drove him. But his indomitable courage, his unfail- 
ing coolness, his unconquerable resource overcame a sea of 
troubles that might well have swept even a strong man 
and a brave soldier off his feet. With regiment after regi- 
ment quietly disbanding as their term of service expired; 
with a plentiful lack of powder, of arms, of provisions, of 
uniforms; w^ith a force that at moments threatened to dis- 
solve into nothingness and leave him with a handful of 
generals alone beneath his insurgent flag, Washington 
never allowed the enemy, and seldom allowed a friend, to 
guess how near at times he came to despair. He raised 
troops somehow; he got provisions somehow; somehow he 
managed to o])tain powder ; somehow he managed to obtain 
arms. The want of weapons was so great that many 
bodies of men were only provided with pikes, and that 
Franklin was driven to suggest, and partly in a spirit of 
humanity, that American farmers fighting for their liberty 
should be armed with the bows and arrows of the red 


men, iiiul should strive to renew upon the fields of Massa- 
chusetts the successes of their ancestors, the yeomen of 
Agincourt, with their clothyard shafts. 

The generals shut up in Boston knew nothing of the 
cares that harassed the mind of Washington. All they knew 
was that they were closely heleaguered; that they were 
cooped up in Boston by a large if irregular army, and that 
they could not get out. They affected, of course, to de- 
spise their enemy. At the private theatricals which were 
given to divert the enforced leisure of Lord Howe an actor 
who came on as a caricature of Washington, attired like a 
military scarecrow, never failed to please. Burgoyne was 
confident that sooner or later he could find that " elbow- 
room " the ungratified desire for which has served to im- 
mortalize his name. But neither Howe nor Burgoyne nor 
any one else could dissipate the ragged regiments that in- 
vested Boston, nor baffle the plans of the great soldier 
who commanded them. For nearly a year the world saw 
with wonder the spectacle of an English army confined in 
Boston, and an English fleet riding idly in the Charles 
River. Then the end came. AVashington, closing in, of- 
fered Lord Howe, the English general then in command, 
the choice of evacuation or bombardment. The English 
general chose the former. The royal troops withdrew from 
Boston, taking with them the loyalist families who had 
thrown in their lot with the King's cause. The English 
ships that sailed from Boston were terribly overcrowded 
with the number of refugees who preferred flight, with all 
its attendant sorrows, to remaining in a rebellious country. 
The English fleet sailed away from Boston and the Con- 
tinental Army marched in. So far the cause of King 
George was going very badly indeed ; so far the rebellious 
colonists had failed to justify the confident prophecies 
of Tjord Sandwich. With any other king and with any 
other ministers one such year's work would have been 
enough at least to induce them to reconsider their position. 
But the King was George the Third, and his ministers 
were what they were, and it was resolved that the war 
must go on. 


The war did go on. It lasted for five years more, in 
spite of the protests of ever}^ truly patriotic Englishman, 
in spite of proof after proof that nothing could break the 
spirit or crush the courage of the colonists. While in Eng- 
land Fox arrayed himself in the blue and buff that com- 
posed the uniform of the Continental Army, while the 
Duke of Richmond made it a point to speak, and with ex- 
cellent reason, of the Continental Army as " our army," 
while the eloquence of Chatham and the eloquence of 
Burke were launched in vain against campaigns as idle as 
they were infamous, the war went stubbornly on. The 
King and his ministers proposed new measures of repres- 
sion and expended vast sums in the purchase of Hessian 
regiments to dragoon the defiant colonists. Soon all pre- 
tence of loyalty had to be abandoned by the Americans. 
The statue of King George was dragged from its place of 
honor in Bowling Green, New York, and run into bullets 
to be used against his German levies. In the summer 
that followed the evacuation of Boston the rebellious 
colonies proclaimed their independence in the most 
memorable declaration of a people's right ever made by 
men. This was in 1776. The disastrous war had still five 
years to run. 

The fortunes of the war varied. The early victories of 
the Americans were followed by a series of defeats which 
left Philadelphia in the hands of the British, and which 
would have broken the heart of any man of less heroic 
mould than Washington. Hope revived with a series of 
Continental victories. Aid came to America from abroad. 
France, Germany, Poland sent stout soldiers to fight for 
freedom — Lafayette, Von Steuben, Kosciusko. The Eng- 
lish general Burgoyne surrendered with all his army at 
Saratoga. After the winter of 1777, when Washington 
and his army suffered all the rigors of Valley Forge, 
France acknowledged the independence of America, the 
British evacuated Philadelphia, and Paul Jones made him- 
self forever famous by the way in which he and his ship 
" Le Bonhomme Eichard,'' carried the American war to 
the coast of England. Again came colonial reverses. A 


steady siifcossion of English successes scarcely struck so 
hard a blow at the Continental cause as the treason of 
Benedict Arnold, who entered into negotiations with the 
British to betray his command. Washington had trusted 
and loved Arnold like a brother. " Whom can I trust 
now?-' he asked in momentary despair when the capture 
of an English officer, Major Andre, and the flight of Bene- 
dict Arnold to the British lines revealed to him an un- 
dreamed-of treason which had threatened to undermine 
the colonial cause. But Benedict Arnold's crime had for 
its only result the death of a better man than himself, of 
Major Andre, who had by the laws of war to suffer death 
as a spy. There were other traitors and semi-traitors in 
the American army : Lee was certainly the first ; Gates 
was almost, if not quite, the second. But Lee and Gates 
failed to do the mischief to which their base jealousy of 
Washington prompted them. The right cause triumphed. 
In 1781 another British army surrendered, the army of 
Cornwallis, at Yorktown. Even North was forced to 
recognize that this crushing disaster to the royal hopes and 
the royal arms practically ended the war. It w^as sus- 
pended in the following year, and in 1783, after much 
negotiation, which at times threatened to come to nothing, 
a treaty of peace was signed in France, and the American 
Republic took its place among the nations of the earth. 
It was for these negotiations that Franklin, as we have 
said, brought out from its obscurity that gala suit which 
he had worn for the last time when he stood at the bar of 
the House of Commons and listened to the brutal and 
foolish assaults of Wedderburn. Many days had passed 
since that day. 

So ended one of the most unjust and one of the most 
foolish wars ever waged by England. It must never be 
forgotten that the war was in no sense an English war. 
The English people as a whole had then no voice to ex- 
press itself one way or the other. Of those Englishmen 
whose voices had to be heard, the best and the wisest were 
as angry in their denunciations of the crime of the King 
and the King's ministers, and as cordial in their admira- 


tion of Washington and his companions, as if they had 
been members of that Continental Congress which first 
in Philadelphia proclaimed the existence of a new nation. 
The fatal war which had cost the English King the loss 
of his greatest colonies, which had spilt a vast amount of 
blood and wasted a vast amount of treasure in order to 
call into being a strong and naturally resentful rival to the 
power of England, must be said also to have cost the life 
of the greatest English statesman of the century. The 
genius of Chatham had never been more nobly employed 
than in protesting with all the splendor of its eloquence 
against the unjust war upon the Americans and the un- 
just deeds which had heralded the war. But time, that 
had only swelled the ranks of the wise and sane who 
thought as Chatham had thought and found their own 
utterance from the fire of his words, had wrought a change 
in the attitude of a great statesman. Harassed by the 
disease that racked his body, the mind of Chatham had 
altered. The noble views that he had maintained in de- 
fiance of a headstrong king and a corrupt ministry had 
changed in the face of the succession of calamities that 
had fallen upon his country. The success that he had de- 
sired for the insurgent arms had been accorded, and he 
came to despair at the consequence of that success. He had 
been granted his heart's desire in full measure, and the 
gratification choked him. When it came to be a ques- 
tion of conceding to the colonists that formal recognition 
of an independence which they had already won, the in- 
tellect of Chatham revolted against the policy himself had 
fostered. He forgot or he forswore the principles which 
animated Burke, which animated Fox, which guided the 
course of Rockingham and inspired the utterances of Rich- 
mond. All he could see was an England humiliated by 
many defeats, an England threatened by many terrible 
alliances, and in the face of humiliation and of menace 
he forgot that both alike were the inevitable, the well- 
deserved fruit of injustice. Remembering that he had 
helped to make England great, he refused to remember 
that England would have been still greater if she had fol- 


lowed the honorable course his wisdom had made plain to 
her. His proud, unhappy spirit could not consent to 
her dismemberment, a dismemberment which seemed to 
his fading intellect to be the equivalent to her ruin. He 
came from his sick bed, a ghastly image of decay, to offer 
the desperate protest of a dying man against surrender 
to the mutiny his own eloquence had fanned. " Come the 
four quarters of the world in arms and we will shock 
them." The spirit of Faulconbridge was strong in the 
ruined body of the statesman who was carried to his seat 
in the House of Lords by the son who bore his name and 
by the Lord Mahon who had married his daughter. His 
eagle face was turned against the men who had been his 
colleagues. His trembling hand pointed at them in con- 
demnation. He gasped out a few sentences, almost inar- 
ticulate, almost inaudible, before he reeled in a fit upon 
the arms of those about him. He was carried from the 
House ; he was carried to Hayes, and at Hayes a few weeks 
later the great career came to an end. His last battle was 
at least heroic. If his stroke was struck on the wrong side 
and for a cause his prime had done so much to baffle, it 
is not necessary to attribute his perversion entirely to the 
insidious ravages of the malady that had clouded his whole 
life. He could not bear to see the countrv that was in 
so eminent and so intimate a sense his country yield even 
to claims that were conspicuously right and just at the 
command of a league between England's rebellious chil- 
dren and England's enemy, France. There broke his 
mighty heart. In Chatham England lost one of the great- 
est of her statesmen, one of the most splendid of her sons. 
His life was passionately devoted to his country, his career 
one long struggle against a peculiarly bigoted, stubborn, 
and unwise King. Always hated by his enemies, often 
misunderstood by his friends, he showed while he lived a 
steadfast front alike against the enemies of England 
abroad and those worse enemies of England at home who 
filled the throne and the places about the throne. He was 
buried with great pomp and honor at Westminster, leaving 
behind him not merely the memory of an illustrious name. 


but a name that the second generation was still to make 

The folly of the King and the servility of his ministers 
resulted in what seemed to be almost an irredeemable 
catastrophe for England. Even those Englishmen who 
most sympathized with the struggle for American inde- 
pendence could not but feel a regret that men who might 
have been among the most glorious citizens of a great and 
united empire should be thus recklessly forced into an 
enmity that had deprived England of its most splendid 
possessions. The enemies of England, many and eager, 
believed her day was done, that her sun was setting, that 
neither her power nor her prestige would ever recover 
from the succession of disasters that began at Lexington 
and that ended in Paris. But the vitality of the country 
was too great to be seriously impaired even by the loss of 
the American colonies. From a blow that might well have 
been little less than fatal the country recovered with a 
readiness and a rapidity that was amazing. Men who in 
their youth heard their elders speak with despair of the 
calamity that had befallen their country lived to old age 
to learn that the wound was not incurable, and that Eng- 
land was greater, richer, prouder, and more powerful than 
she had ever been before. If she had lost the American 
colonies she had learned a lesson in the loss. The blow 
that might have stunned only served to rouse her to a 
greater sense of her danger and a livelier consciousness of 
her duty. If she had suffered much from rashness she was 
not going to suffer more from inaction, and it seemed as if 
every source of strength in the kingdom knit itself together 
in the common purpose of showing to the world that Eng- 
land still was England, although a part of her empire had 
passed away from her forever. There was no glory to be 
got for England out of the American war; it was wrong 
from first to last, wrong, unjust, and foolish, but when it 
ended it did not find her crippled, nor did it leave her 
permanently enfeebled in temper or in strength. 

We may gather some idea of what risk wise men felt 
they were running from a famous speech of Edmund 


Burke. He was striving to stay the determination of the 
Ministry to declare war upon tlie American colonies. He 
wished his hearers to appreciate the progress that America 
had made within living memory. He called imaginatiqn 
to his aid. He spoke of a statesman then living in the late 
evening of an honorable life. He pictured that statesman 
in the promise of his early dawn, saluted by the angel of 
his auspicious youth, and given the power to see into the 
future, so far as to the hour when Burke was speaking. 
*' What," said Burke, " if while he was gazing with ad- 
miration on the then commercial grandeur of England 
the genius should point out to him a little speck, scarce 
visible in the mass of the nation's interest, and should tell 
him, ' Young man, there is America, which at this day 
serves for little more than to amuse you with stories of 
savage men and uncouth manners, yet before you taste of 
death will show itself equal to the whole of that commerce 
which now attracts the envy of the world. Whatever Eng- 
land has been growing to by a progressive increase of im- 
provement, brought in by varieties of people, hy succes- 
sion of civilizing conquests and civilizing settlements in 
a series of seventeen hundred years, you shall see as much 
added to her by America in the course of a single life !' If 
this state of his country had been foretold to him, would 
it not require all the sanguine credulity of youth and all 
the fervid glow of enthusiasm to make him believe it? 
Fortunate man, he has lived to see it." If the genius of 
prophecy could have stood by Burke's shoulder then, and 
illuminated his noble soul with the knowledge that is the 
common possession of mankind to-day, would it not have 
required all the sanguine credulity, all the divine enthusi- 
asm of genius to make him believe it? 

The war that gave the world a new nation and a republic 
greater than Rome added one of the greatest names, and 
perhaps the noblest name, to the roll-call of the great cap- 
tains of the earth. No soldier of all those that the eyes 
of Dante discerned in the first circle, not even " Caesar, 
all armored with gerfalcon eyes," adorns the annals of 
antiquity more than George Washington illuminates the 


last quarter of the eigliteenih century. His splendid 
strength, his sweet austerity, his proud patience are hardly 
to be rivalled in the previous history of humanity, and 
have perhaps only been rivalled since his day by children 
of the same continent and of the same southern soil, who 
sacrificed qualities much akin to his own on a cause that, 
unlike his, was not the cause of freedom. " First in 
peace, first in war, and first in the hearts of his country- 
men." The phrase of Lee has been worn threadbare with 
iteration since it was first uttered, but it always rings true 
of the high-minded, unfaltering soldier and honorable, 
simple gentleman w^hose genius in w^ar and whose modesty 
in peace made the republic of America an enduring fact in 
history. Long after the great soldier and good man had 
been laid to rest an English poet did him justice, and no 
more than justice, by writing that " the first, the last, the 
best, the Cincinnatus of the West, whom envy dared not 
hate, bequeathed the name of Washington to make man 
blush there was but one." Washins^ton was made the first 
President of the American Republic in 1789, after reso- 
lutely resisting all suggestions to make himself king of the 
new commonwealth. He served for two terms of four 
3^ears each, and then retired into private life, unembittered 
by the cruel and stupid ingratitude of the few and un- 
spoiled by the reasoned and grateful homage of the many. 
He died in 1799 in his quiet home in Mount Vernon, while 
the King who still regarded him as a rebel had many years 
of his unquiet reign to live. 




In the year 1778 Sir George Savile earned for himself 
an honorable distinction by passing his measure for the 
relief of Koman Catholics. Sir George Savile was a man 
of advanced views; he fought gallantly in the House of 
Commons through five successive Parliaments, in which 
he represented York County, for all measures which he 
believed to be sincerely patriotic, and against all measures 
which he believed to be opposed to the honorable interests 
of his country. He gained the laurel of praise from Burke, 
who, in one of his famous Bristol speeches, spoke of him 
as a true genius, " with an understanding vigorous, acute, 
relined, distinguishing even to excess; and illuminated 
with a most unbounded, peculiar, and original cast of 
imagination." The man whom Burke thus generously 
praised deserved the praises. He strove earnestly against 
the American war. He enthusiastically supported Pitt's 
motion in 1783 for a reform in Parliament. He was the 
author of an admirable Bill for the Limitation of the 
Claims of the Crown upon Landed Estates. But his name 
is chiefly associated with his Bill for Catholic Relief, both 
because of the excellent purpose of the measure itself, and 
because of the remarkable outburst of fanaticism which 
followed it. 

Sir George Savile's measure did away with certain re- 
strictions, certain barbarous restrictions, as they now seem, 
upon English subjects professing the Catholic faith. The 
famous Act of the eleventh and twelfth years of King 
William the Third, the Act known as the Act for the Eur- 
ther Preventing the Growth of Popery, had instituted 
certain very harsh penal enactments against Catholics. 


That Act Sir George Savile proposed largely to repeal. 
This was a measure of relief of no great magnitude, but it 
did at least recognize the common humanity of Catholic 
Englishmen with Protestant Englishmen; it did at least 
allow to Catholic Englishmen some of the dearest and 
most obvious rights of citizenship. The savage penal laws 
which for so long afflicted the sister island of Ireland were 
tempered and abrogated in this measure as far as England 
was concerned, and rujnor spread it abroad that a similar 
relief was soon to be extended to the Catholics of Scotland. 
Straightway a Bill which had passed both Houses without 
a single negative aroused the fiercest opposition beyond 
the Border. The announcement of the recall of the Stu- 
arts could not have spread a greater panic through the 
ranks of the Scottish Protestants. A violent agitation 
was set on foot, an agitation which could not have been 
more violent if the Highlanders had once again been at 
the gates of Edinburgh. An alarmist spirit spread abroad. 
All manner of associations and societies were called into 
being for the defence of a faith which was not menaced. 
Committees were appointed to inflame faction and serve 
as the rallying points of bigotry. Sectarian books and 
pamphlets of the most exaggerated and alarming kind 
were sown broadcast all over the countrv. The result of 
this kind of agitation showed itself in a religious persecu- 
tion, which gradually developed into a religious war. The 
unfortunate Catholic residents in Edinburgh, in Glasgow, 
and in other great Scottish towns found themselves sud- 
denly the victims of savage violence at the hands of mobs 
incited by the inflammatory utterances and the inflam- 
matory propaganda of the Protestant committees. In the 
face of the disorder which a suggestion of mercy aroused 
in Scotland, the Government seemed to take fright, and 
to abandon all thought of extending the clemencv of the 
Relief Bill to Scotland. 

But the Scottish agitation against the Catholics soon 
spread across the Border, soon directed itself, not against 
the imaginary Bill which it might be the intention of the 
Government to pass, but against the actual Bill which the 


Government had passed for the benefit of English Catho- 
lics. The bigoted bodies, societies, and conmiittees iu Scot- 
land soon found their parallels in England. The Eng- 
lish J'rotestant Association rose into being like some sud- 
den evocation of a wizard, and chose for its head and leader 
the num who had made himself conspicuous as the head 
and leader of the movement in Scotland — Lord George 

i^ord George Gordon lives forever, a familiar figure in 
the minds of the English-speaking race, thanks to the pict- 
ure drawn by Charles Dickens. Englishmen know, as 
they know the face of a friend, the ominous figure " about 
the middle height, of a slender make and sallow com- 
plexion, with an aquiline nose, and long hair of a reddish 
brown, combed perfectly straight and smooth about his 
ears and slightly powdered, but without the faintest ves- 
tige of a curl." It is a living portrait of that solemn gen- 
tleman in the suit of soberest black, with those bright large 
eyes in which insanity burned, " eyes which betrayed a 
restlessness of thought and purpose, singularly at variance 
with the studied composure and sobriety of his mien, and 
with his quaint and sad apparel." It fits well with all that 
we know of Lord George Gordon to learn that there was 
nothing fierce or cruel in his face, whose mildness and 
wliose melancholy were chiefly varied by a haunting air 
of " indefinable uneasiness, which infected those who 
looked upon him and filled them with a kind of pity for 
the man: though why it did so they would have had some 
trouble to explain." Such was the strange fanatic whose 
name was destined to be blown for a season throughout 
England, who was fated to stand for a moment visible in 
the eyes of all men, the idol of intolerance, the apostle of 
violence, of murder, and of fire, and then to fall most 
pitiably, most pitifully into the dust. 

Lord George Gordon was still a young man when he 
became leader of the anti-Catholic agitation. He would 
seem in our days a very young man, for, as he was born 
in 1750, he was only thirty when the agitation reached its 
height. But a man of thirty was counted older than he 

1750-80. LORD GEORGE GORDON. 193 

would not be reckoned, in an epoch when it was possible 
for a young man just come of age to lead the House of 
Commons. Lord George Gordon had led a somewhat 
varied life. He had been in the navy, and had left the 
service from pique, while the American war was still in 
Its earliest stages, in consequence of a quarrel with Lord 
Sandwich concerning promotion. The restless energy 
which he could no longer dedicate to active service he re- 
solved most unhappily to devote to political life. He en- 
tered Parliament as the representative of the borough of 
Ludgershall, and soon earned for himself a considerable 
notoriety in Westminster. He had very fierce opinions; 
he attacked everybody and everything; his vehemence and 
vituperation were seasoned with a kind of wit, and he made 
himself, if not a power, at least an important factor in the 
House of Commons. Indeed, it passed into a kind of 
proverb at St. Stephen's that there were three parties in the 
State — the Ministr}^, the Opposition, and Lord George 
Gordon. Parliament had seen before, and has seen since, 
many a politician fighting thus like Hal o' the W}Tid for 
his own hand, but no one so influential for a season or so 
pernicious in his influence as Lord George Gordon. 

It seems quite clear to those who review so strange a 
career at this distance of time that Lord George Gordon 
was of deranged intellect. It does not need the alleged 
contrast between his professions and his practice to en- 
force this conclusion. jMany men have affected the re- 
ligious habit and the religious bearing while their lives 
were privately profligate without deserving to be called 
insane except in the sense in which any criminal excess 
may be regarded pathologically as a proof of madness. 
Even if it were true that the long-haired and black-hab- 
ited George Gordon were the debauched profligate that 
Hannah More and Horace Walpole maintained him to 
be, he might find fellow-sinners of unquestioned sanity. 
But the conduct of his public life goes to prove that his 
wits were diseased. His behavior in the House, when it 
was not intolerably tedious, was characterized by a 

grotesque buffoonery which men looked upon as laughable 
VOL. m. — 7 


or pitiable according to their tempers, but which they had 
not yet learned to look upon as dangerous. When he de- 
nounced the King as a Papist, when he declared that the 
time would come when George Gordon would be able to 
dictate to the Crown and Parliament, when he occasionally 
interrupted his wild utterances to break into Hoods of tears, 
men sneered or yawned or laughed. They were soon to 
learn that the man was something more than divertingly 

In the excitement that followed on the passing of the 
relief measure Lord George Gordon found his opportunity 
for being actively noxious. A gloomy fanaticism in Scot- 
land took fire at the fear lest kindred relief should be ex- 
tended to the North Briton, and, as we have said, displayed 
itself in savage speech and savage deed. In the press and 
from the pulpit denunciations of the Catholics streamed. 
The Synod of Glasgow solemnly resolved that it would op- 
pose any Bill brought into Parliament in favor of Scottish 
Catholics. In Edinburah and in Glasgow houses were 
wrecked and lives menaced. In Glasgow a worthy potter, 
^Ir. Bagnal, who had brought from Staffordshire its fa- 
mous art, had his property wholly destroyed. In Edin- 
burgh the house of a Catholic priest was wrecked in obe- 
dience to a brutal handbill which called upon its readers to 
*' take it as a warning to meet at Leith Wynd, on Wednes- 
day next, in the evening, to pull down that pillar of 
popery lately erected there." The " pillar of popery " was 
the dwelling occupied by the priest, which was duly 
wrecked in obedience to the bidding of the nameless 
" Protestant " who signed the manifesto. It is curious to 
note a postscriptum to the handbill, which ran thus: 
*' Please to read this carefully, keep it clean, and drop it 
somewhere else. For Kino; and countrv. — Unity." The 
means which were adopted to spread fanaticism in Scot- 
land were carefully followed when the time came for car- 
rying the agitation into England. 

It was indeed not necessary to be a Catholic to call down 
the fury of fanatical persecution. To have expressed any 
sympathy for Catholicism, to have taken part in any way. 


uo matter how indirect, in the advocacy of the relief 
measure, was enough to mark men out for vengeance. Dr. 
Robertson, the historian, was threatened because he advo- 
cated tolerance in religious matters. A lawyer named 
Crosbie was denounced merely because he had in the way 
of his regular business drawn up the Bill intended for 
Parliament. It was inevitable that the action of intol- 
erance in Scotland should come before the notice of Par- 
liament. Wilkes, always ostentatious in the cause of lib- 
erty, called upon Dundas to bring in his relief measure 
for Scotland. When Dundas declared that it was better 
to delay the m.easure until cooler judgment might prevail, 
Wilkes denounced him for allowing Parliament to truckle 
to riot, and the denunciation found support in the actions 
of Burke and of Fox. Lord George Gordon had found his 
opportunity. He assailed Fox; he assailed Burke, He 
declared that every non-Catholic in Scotland was ready 
to rise in arms against Catholic relief, and that the rebels 
had chosen him for their leader. He raged and vapored 
and threatened on the floor of the House. But he did 
more than rage and vapor and threaten. Whether of his 
own motion, or prompted by others, he formed a " Protes- 
tant Association " in England. Of this, as of the similar 
Scottish Association, he was declared the head, and this 
accumulation of honors wholly overthrew his intelligence. 
An amiable writer has declared that " it would be much 
beneath the dignity of history to record the excesses of so 
coarse a fanatic but for the fatal consequences with which 
they were attended." The amiable defender of a detest- 
able phrase does not understand that it was the excesses 
of the fanatic that led to the fatal consequences, and that 
Lord George Gordon, as the ostensible head and conspicu- 
ous cause of one of the gravest events of the history of 
England in the eighteenth century, is in no sense beneath 
the " dignity of history." The business of history is with 
him and with such as he, as well as with the statelier, 
austerer figures who sanely shape the destinies of the State. 
There was plenty of fanaticism abroad in England ; it was 
reserved for Lord George Gordon to bring it together into 

196 A IllSTORV OF THE FOUR GEOR(;KS. ch. lv. 

a single body, to organize it, and to employ its force with 
a terrible if temporary success. He issued an insane procla- 
nuition calling upon men to unite against Catholicism; he 
lield a great meeting of the Protestant Association at 
(.^oaehmakers' Hall, at which with a kind of Bedlamite 
brilliancy he raved against Catholicism and lashed the 
])assions of his hearers to delirium. It was resolved to 
liold a huge meeting of the Protestant Association in St. 
(George's Fields on June 2. At its head Lord George Gor- 
don was to proceed to the House of Commons and deliver 
the petition against Catholic relief. All stanch Protestants 
were to wear blue cockades in their hats to mark out the 
faithful from the unfaithful. 

On June 2, 1780, the meeting was held. Lord George 
Gordon had announced in his speech at the Coachmakers' 
Hall that he would not deliver the petition if the meeting 
were less than twenty thousand strong. The number of 
Lord George's limit was enormously exceeded. It is said 
that at least sixty thousand persons were present in St. 
George's Fields on the appointed day, and some chroni- 
clers compute the number at nearer one hundred thousand 
than sixty thousand. It is curious to note in passing that 
a Roman Catholic cathedral stands now on the very site 
where this meeting was held. After the meeting had 
assembled it started to march six abreast to Westminster. 
The hand of the great romancer who has made George 
Gordon live has renewed that memorable day, with its 
noise, its tumult, its tossing banners, its shouted party 
cries, its chanted hymns, its military evolutions, its insane 
enthusiasms, its dangerous latent passions. Gibbon, who 
M^as then a member of the House of Commons, declared 
that the assemblage seemed to him as if forty thousand 
Puritans of the days of Cromwell had started from their 
graves. The forty thousand Puritans were escorted by and 
incorporated with a still greater body of all the ruffianism 
and scoundrelism that a great city can contribute to any 
scene of popular agitation. What fanaticism inspired 
rowdyism was more than ready to profit by. The march 
to AVestminster and the arrival at Westminster form one of 


the wildest episodes in the history of London. By three 
different routes the blue-cockaded petitioners proceeded 
to Westminster, and rallied in the large open spaces then 
existing in front of the Houses of Parliament. The innate 
lawlessness of the assemblage soon manifested itself in a 
series of attacks upon the members of both Houses who 
were endeavoring to make their way through the press to 
their respective Chambers. It is one more example of the 
eternal irony of history that, while the mob was buffeting 
members of the Lower House, and doing its best to murder 
members of the Upper House, while a merciless intolerance 
was rapidly degenerating into a merciless disorder, the 
Duke of Kichmond was wholly absorbed in a speech in 
favor of annual parliaments and universal suffrage. Mem- 
ber after member of the House of Lords reeled into the 
Painted Chamber, dishevelled, bleeding, with pale face and 
torn garments, to protest against the violence of the mob 
and the insult to Parliamentary authority. Ashburnham, 
Townshend and Willoughby, Stormont and Bathurst, 
Mansfield, Mountfort, and Boston, one after another came 
in, dismaved victims of and witnesses to the violence that 
reigned outside. Bishop after bishop entered to complain 
of brutal ill-treatment. But the Duke of Richmond was 
so wrapped up in his own speech and its importance that 
he could only protest against anything which interrupted 
its flow. It is agreeable to find that imbecility and terror 
did not rule unchallenged over the L^pper House that day. 
One account, that of Walpole, who is always malicious, 
represents Lord ]\Iansfield as sitting upon the woolsack 
trembling like an aspen. Another, more creditable and 
more credible, declares that Lord Mansfield showed 
throughout the utmost composure and presence of mind. 
About the gallantry of Lord Townshend there can be no 
doubt. When he heard that Lord Boston was in the hands 
of the mob, he turned to the younger peers about him, re- 
minded them of their youth, and the fact that they wore 
swords, and called upon them to draw with him and fight 
their way to the rescue of their brother peer. It was at 
least a gallant if a hopeless suggestion. What could the 


rapiers of a score of gentlemen avail against the thousands 
who seethed and raved outside Westminster Hall? The 
solemn Duke of Richmond interfered. If the Lords went 
forth to face the mob he urged that they should go as a 
House and carrying the Mace before them. On this a 
debate sprang up, while the storm still raged outside. A 
Middlesex magistrate, called to the bar in haste, declared 
that he could onlv offer six constables to meet the diffi- 
culty. A proposal to call upon the military power was 
fiercely opposed by Lord Sholburne. Under such condi- 
tions the Peers did nothing, and in the end retired, leav- 
ing Lord Mansfield alone in his glory. 

If things went badly in the Upper House, they went 
still worse in the Lower House. While members trying 
to gain entrance suffered almost as much ill-treatment as 
the Peers at the hands of the mob, the Commons' House 
was much more closely leaguered than the House of Lords. 
For it was in the Commons' House that the petition was 
to be presented. It was in the Commons' House that Lord 
George Gordon, pale, lank-haired, black-habited, with the 
blue cockade in his hat, was calling upon the Commons to 
receive immediately the monstrous petition. Every en- 
trance to the House was choked with excited humanity. 
The Lobby itself was overflowing with riotous fanatics, 
who thundered at intervals upon the closed doors of the 
Chamber with their bludgeons. Shrieks of " No Popery," 
and huzzas for Lord George Gordon filled the place with 
a hideous clamor strangely contrasting with the decorum 
that habitually reigned there. 

Lord George Gordon did not cut a very heroic figure on 
that memorable day at Westminster. He was perpetually 
rushing from his place to the door of the House to repeat 
to rowdyism in the Lobby what different members had 
said in the debates. At one time he denounced the Speaker 
of the House; at another, Mr. Rous; at another, Lord 
North. Occasionally he praised a speaker, and his praise 
was more ludicrous than his condemnation. At one mo- 
ment, when Lord George was at the door communicating 
with the crowd, Sir Michael le Fleming came up to him 


and tried to induce him to return to his seat. Lord George 
immediately began caressing Sir Michael le Fleming in a 
childish, almost in an imbecile way, patting and stroking 
him upon the shoulders, and expressing inarticulately a 
pitiful kind of joy. He introduced Sir Michael le Flem- 
ing to the mob as a man who had just been speaking for 
them. A little later Lord George again addressed the 
crowd, this time from the little gallery, when he stimu- 
lated their passions by appeal to the example of the 
Scotch, who had found no redress till they had pulled 
down the IMass-houses. Probably no stranger scene has ever 
been witnessed at Westminster than this of the pale-faced 
fanatic and madman, with the blue cockade in his hat, 
running backward and forward from the Chamber to 
the door of the House, delivering inflammatory addresses 
to the mob that raged in the Lobby, and stimulating them 
by his wild harangues to persevere in their conduct, and 
to terrify the King and the Parliament into obedience to 
their wishes. The names of the members who spoke 
against the petition he communicated to the shrieking 
throng; their utterances he falsely reported. 

It is deeply interesting to note a fact which has 
escaped the notice of not merely the most conspicuous his- 
torians of the time, but also the keen eye of the great 
novelist who studied the event. It is recorded in the 
"Annual Eegister'^ for the year 1780 that among the 
members whose names Lord George Gordon denounced to 
the raving crowd in the Lobby the name of Mr. Burke 
had especial prominence. It is curious to picture the im- 
becile fanatic standing upon the steps leading to the 
Strangers' Gallery and invoking the fury of the fanatic 
and the lawless against the greatest public man of his age. 

For a while Lord George Gordon was suffered to rant 
unimpeded. At last Colonel Holroyd, seizing hold of 
him, threatened to move for his immediate committal to 
Newgate, while Colonel Gordon, with a blunter and yet 
more efficacious eloquence, declared that if any of the 
rioters attempted to force his way past the door of the 
House, he, Colonel Gordon, would run his sword throudi 


the body, not of the invader, but of Lord George Gordon. 
As Colonel Gordon was a kinsman of Lord George's, it 
may be that Lord George knew sufficient of his temper 
to believe his word and was sufficiently sane to accept his 
warning. At least there came a pause in his inflammatory 
phrases, and shortly afterward the news of the arrival of 
a party of Horse and Foot Guards did what no persua- 
sions or entreaties could effect. It cleared the Lobby and 
the approaches to the House. Under conditions of what 
might be called comparative quiet the division on Lord 
George Gordon's proposal for the immediate reception of 
the petition was taken, and only found six supporters 
against a majority of one hundred and ninety-two. 

But mischief was afoot and began to work. The mob 
that had been dispersed from Westminster broke up into 
different parties and proceeded to expend its fury in the 
destruction of buildings. The hustling of peers, the bon- 
neting of bishops, the insulting of members of Parliament, 
all made rare sport; but the demolition of Catholic places 
of worship promised a better, and suggested exquisite pos- 
sibilities of further depredation. The Catholic chapels 
in. Duke Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, and in Warwick 
Street, Golden Square — the one belonging to the Sar- 
dinian, the other to the Bavarian Minister — were attacked, 
plundered, set fire to, and almost entirely destroyed. The 
military were sent for ; they arrived too late to prevent the 
arson, but thirteen of the malefactors were seized and com- 
mitted to Newgate, and for the night the mob Avas dis- 
persed. It was not a bad day's work for the rioters. Par- 
liament had been insulted, the Government and the very 
Throne menaced. In two parts of the town Catholic build- 
ings, under the protection of foreign and friendly Powers, 
stood stripped and blackened piles. Eiot had faced the 
bayonets of authority — had for a moment seemed ready 
to defy them. Yet at first nobody seems to have taken the 
matter seriously or gauged its grave significance. Neither 
the Catholics, against whom the agitation was levelled, 
nor the peers and prelates and members of Parliament who 
had been so harshlv treated seemed to understand the stern- 


ness of the situation. There was a sense of confidence in 
law and order, a feeling of security in good administra- 
tion, which lulled men into a false confidence. 

This false confidence was increased by the quiet. which 
reigned over Saturday, June 3. Parliament met undis- 
turbed. An address of Lord Bathurst's, calling for a prose- 
cution of " the authors, abettors, and instruments of yes- 
terday's outrages," was carried after a rambling and pur- 
poseless debate, and the House of Lords adjourned till the 
6th, apparently convinced that there was no further cause 
for alarm. This public composure was rudely shaken on 
the following day, Sunday, June 4. The rioters reassem- 
bled at Moorfields. Once again the buildings belonging 
to Catholics were ransacked and demolished; once again 
incendiary fires blazed, and processions of savage figures 
decked in the spoils of Catholic ceremonial carried terror 
before them. The Lord Mayor, Kennett, proved to be a 
weak man wholly unequal to the peril he was suddenly 
called upon to face. There were soldiers at hand, but they 
were not made use of. One act of resolution might have 
stayed the disorder at the first, but no man was found 
resolute enough to perform the act; and rapine, raging 
unchecked, became more audacious and more dangerous. 

On the Monday, though the trouble grew graver, noth- 
ing was done to meet it beyond the issuing of a proclama- 
tion offering a reward of five hundred pounds for the dis- 
covery of the persons concerned in the destruction of the 
chapels of the Bavarian and Sardinian Ambassadors. The 
mob gathered again, bolder for the impunity with which 
it had so far acted. Large bodies of men marched to Lord 
George Gordon's house in Welbeck Street and paraded 
there, displaying the trophies stripped from the destroyed 
chapels in Moorfields. Others began work of fresh de- 
struction in Wapping and in Smithfield. Sir George 
Savile's house in Leicester Fields, and the houses of Mr. 
Eainsforth of Clare Market, and Mr. Maberly of Little 
Queen Street, respectable tradesmen who had been active 
in arresting rioters on the Fridaj^ night, were sacked and 
their furniture burned in huge bonfires in the streets. The 


Guards who had the task of escorting the prisoners taken 
on Friday to Xewgate were pelted. 

On the Tuesday authority seemed to have wakened up 
to a vague sense that the situation was somewhat serious. 
Parliament reassembled to find itself again surrounded 
and menaced by a mob, which wounded Lord Sandwich 
and destroyed his carriage. Lord George Gordon attended 
the House, but even his madness appeared to have taken 
alarm, for he had caused a proclamation to be issued in 
the name of the Protestant Association disavowing the 
riots. As he sat in his place, with the blue cockade in his 
hat, Colonel Herbert, who was afterwards Lord Carnarvon, 
called to him from across the House, telling him to take 
oft' the badge or he would cross the floor and do it himself. 
Lord George's vehemence did not stand him in good stead 
where he himself was menaced. He had no following in 
the House. Colonel Herbert was a man of the sword and 
a man of his word. Lord George Gordon took the cockade 
from his hat and put it in his pocket. If authority had 
acted with the firmness of Colonel Gordon on the Friday 
and of Colonel Herbert on the Tuesday, the tumult might 
have been as easily cowed as its leader. But still nothing 
was done. The House of Commons made a half-hearted 
promise that when the tumult subsided the Protestant 
petition would be taken into consideration, and a sugges- 
tion that Lord George ought to be expelled was unfavor- 
ably received. 

From that moment, and for two long and terrible days, 
riot ruled in London. In all directions the evening sky 
was red with flames of burning buildings; in all direc- 
tions organized bands of men, maddened with drink, car- 
ried terror and destruction. The Tuesday evening was 
signalized by the most extraordinary and most daring deed 
that the insurgents had yet done. Some of the men ar- 
rested on the Friday had been committed to Newgate 
Prison. To ISTcAVgate Prison a vast body of men marched, 
and called upon Mr. Akerman, the keeper, to give up his 
keys and surrender his prisoners. His firm refusal con- 
verted the mob into a besieging army. 


Two men of genius have contributed to our knowledge 
of the siege of Xewgate. Crabbe, the poet, was at West- 
minster on the Tuesday, and after seeing all the disturb- 
ance there he made his way with the current of destruc- 
tion towards Xewgate, and witnessed the astonishing capt- 
ure of a massive prison by a body of men, imarmed save 
with such rude weapons of attack as could be hurriedly 
caught up. The prison was so strong that, had a dozen 
men resisted, it would have been almost impossible to take 
it without artillery. But there was nobody to resist. Mr. 
Akerman, the keeper, acted with great courage, and did 
his duty loyally, but he could not hold the place alone. 
Crowbars, pickaxes, and fire forced an entrance into the 
jjrison. " Xot Orpheus himself," wrote Crabbe, " had 
more courage or better luck " than the desperate assailants 
of the prison. They broke into the blazing prison, they 
rescued their comrades, they set all the other prisoners 
free. Into the street, where the summer evening was as 
bright as noonday with the blazing building, the prisoners 
were borne in triumph. Some of them had been con- 
demned to death, and never were men more bewildered 
than by this strange reprieve. The next day Dr. Johnson 
walked, in company with Dr. Scott, to look at the place, 
and found the prison in ruins, with the fire yet glowing. 
The stout-hearted Doctor was loud in his scorn of " the 
cowardice of a commercial place," where such deeds could 
be done without hinderance. 

While one desperate gang was busy with the destruction 
of N"ewgate, other gangs, no less desperate, were busy with 
destructive work elsewhere. The new prison in Clerken- 
well was broken open by one crowd, and its prisoners set 
free. Another assailed Sir John Fielding's house, and 
burned its furniture in the streets. A third attacked the 
house of Lord Mansfield in Bloomsbury Square. This last 
enterprise was one of the most remarkable and infamous of 
the bad business. Lord Mansfield and his wife had barely 
time to escape from the house by a back way before the 
mob were upon it. The now familiar scenes of savage 
violence followed. The doors were broken open, the 


throng poured in, and in a compcaratively short time the 
stately mansion was a ruin. T.ord Mansfield's law library, 
one of the finest in the kingdom, and all the judicial 
nuinuscripts made by him during his long career, were 
destroyed. A small detachment of soldiers came upon the 
scene too late to prevent the destruction of the house or 
to intimidate the mob ; although, according to one account, 
the Riot Act was read and a couple of volleys fired, with 
the result that several of the rioters were shot and wound- 
ed. It is curious to find that the reports of the intended 
purposes of the wreckers drew persons of quality and 
curiosity to Bloomsbury Square in their coaches as to a 
popular performance, and that the destruction of Lord 
Mansfield's house proved more attractive than the produc- 
tion of a new play. 

The Wednesday was no less terrible than the Tuesday. 
The rioters seemed to think that, like so many Mortimers, 
they were now Lords of London. They sent messages to 
the keepers of the public prisons of the King's Bench, the 
Fleet, and to prominent Catholic houses, informing them 
of the precise time when they would be attacked and de- 
stroyed. By this time peaceable London was in a state of 
panic. All shops were shut. From most windows blue 
banners were thrust out to show the sympathy of the oc- 
cupants with the agitation, and the words " Xo Popery " 
were scrawled in chalk across the doors and windows of 
every householder who wished to protect himself against 
the fanaticism of the mob. At least one enterprising in- 
dividual got from Lord George Gordon his signature to 
a paper bidding all true friends to Protestants to do no 
injury to the property of any true Protestant, " as I am 
well assured the proprietor of this house is a stanch and 
worthy friend to the cause." But there were plenty of 
houses where neither fear nor fanaticism displayed blue 
banner or chalked scrawl, houses whose owners boasted no 
safeguard signed by Lord George Gordon, and with these 
the mob busied themselves. The description in the " An- 
nual Register " is so striking that it deserves to be cited ; 
it is prol)ably from the pen of Edmund Burke: "As soon 


as the day was drawing towards a close one of the most 
dreadful spectacles this country ever beheld was ex- 
hibited. Let those who Avere not spectators of it judge 
what the inhabitants felt when they beheld at the same 
time the flames ascending and rolling in clouds from 
the King's Bench and Fleet Prisons, from New Bridewell, 
from the toll-gates on Blackfriars Bridge, from houses in 
every quarter of the town, and particularly from the bot- 
tom and middle of Holborn, where the conflagration was 
horrible beyond description. . . . Six-and-thirty fires, all 
blazing at one time, and in different quarters of the city, 
were to be seen from one spot. During the whole night, 
men, women, and children were running up and down with 
such goods and effects as they wished to preserve. The 
tremendous roar of the authors of these terrible scenes 
was heard at one instant, and at the next the dreadful re- 
port of soldiers' musquets, firing in platoons and from dif- 
ferent quarters; in short, everything served to impress 
the mind with ideas of universal anarchy and approaching 

From the closing words of this account it is plain that 
at last authority had begun to do its duty and to meet 
force with force. Terrorized London shook with every 
wild rumor. Noav men said that the mob had got arms, 
and was more than a match for the militarv ; now that the 
lions in the Tower were to be let loose ; now that the luna- 
tics from Bedlam were to be set free. Every alarming 
rumor that fear could inspire and terror credit was buzzed 
abroad upon that dreadful day, when the servants of the 
Secretary of State wore blue cockades in their hats and 
private gentlemen barricaded their houses, armed their 
people, and prepared to stand a siege. Horace Walpole 
found his relative, Lord Hertford, engaged with his sons 
in loading muskets to be in readiness for the insurgents. 
Everybody now shared in the general alarm, but the alarm 
affected different temperaments differently. Some men 
fied from town; others loaded guns and sharpened swords; 
others put their hands in their pockets and lounged, 
curious spectators, on the heels of riot, eager to observe 


and willing to record events so singular and so unprece- 

It is pleasant to be able to chronicle that the King 
showed an especial courage and composure during that 
wild week's work. George the Third never lost head nor 
heart. To do his House justice, personal courage was one 
of their traditions, but the family quality never showed to 
better advantage than in this crisis. If indeed George the 
Second were prepared, as has been hinted, to fly from Lon- 
don on the approach of the young Pretender, George the 
Third displayed no such weakness in the face of a more 
immediate peril. The peril was more immediate, it was 
also more menacing. No man could safely say where 
bad work so begun might ultimately pause. What had been 
an agitation in favor of a petition might end in revolution 
against the Crown. Outrages that had at first been per- 
petrated with the purpose of striking terror only were 
changing their character. Schemes of plunder formed no 
part of the early plans of the rioters; now it began to be 
known that the rioters had their eyes turned towards the 
Bank of England and were planning to cut the pipes which 
provided London with water. With a little more laxity 
on the part of authority, and a few more successes on the 
part of the mob, it is possible that Lord George Gordon 
might have found himself a puppet Caesar on the shields 
of Protestant Praetorians. 

That nothing even approaching to this did happen was 
largely due to the courage and the determination of the 
Sovereign. The Administration vacillated. The Privy 
Council, facing an agitation of whose extent and popularity 
it was unaware, feared to commit itself. George felt no 
such fear. Where authority fell back paralj^zed in the 
presence of a new, unknowm, and daily increasing peril, he 
came forward and asserted himself after a fashion worthy 
of a king. If the Privy Council would not act with him, 
then he would act without them. He would lead out his 
Guards himself and charge the rioters at their head. The 
courage which had shown itself at Dettingen, the courage 
which had been displayed by generations of rough German 


electors and Italian princes, showed itself gallantly now 
and saved the city. The King lamented the weakness of 
the magistrates, but at least there was one, he said, who 
would do his duty, and he touched his breast with his hand. 
George the Third is not a heroic figure in history, but just 
at that moment he bore himself with a royal honor which 
ranked him with Leonidas or Horatius. If there are to 
be kings at all, that is how kings ought to behave. George 
was fortunate in finding a man to stand by him and to lend 
to his soldierly courage the support of the law. Wedder- 
burn, the Attorney-General, declared, with all the authority 
of his high position, that in cases where the civil power was 
unable to restrain arson and outrage, it was the duty of all 
persons, civil as well as military, to use all means in their 
power to deal with the danger. The reading of the Eiot 
Act was nugatory in such exceptional conditions, and it 
became the duty of the military to attack the rioters. Thus 
supported, the King ordered Wedderburn to write at once 
to Lord Amherst, the Commander-in-Chief, authorizing 
him to employ the military without waiting for authority 
from the civil powers. Wedderburn, who in a few days 
was to become Chief Justice and Lord Loughborough, 
wrote the order, kneeling upon one knee at the council 
table, and from that moment the enemy was grappled with 
in grim earnest. 

It was high time. No less than two unsuccessful attacks 
had been made during that day upon the Bank of England, 
but precautions had been taken, and the successes of New- 
gate were not repeated in Threadneedle Street. The as- 
sailants were repulsed on each occasion b}^ the military, 
who occupied every avenue leading to the Bank. Had the 
attack upon the Bank succeeded it is impossible to form 
any estimate of what the result might have been. But it 
failed, and with that failure the whole hideous agitation 
failed as well. But the crowning horror of the whole epi- 
sode was reserved for that final day of danger. In Hol- 
born, where riot raged fiercest, stood the distilleries of Mr. 
Langdale, a wealthy Roman Catholic. The distilleries 
were attacked and fired. Rivers of spirit ran in all the con- 


duits and blazed as they ran. Men, drunk with liquor and 
maddened with excitement, kneeled to drink, and, drinking, 
fell and died where they lay. By this time the soldiers 
were acting vigorousl}', driving the rabble before them, 
shooting all who resisted, as some did resist desperately. 
The fire that had grown during the week was quenched at 
last in blood. On the Thursday morning London was 
safe, comparatively quiet, almost itself again. The shops 
indeed were still closed, but mutiny had lived its life. 
There was a short, sharp struggle during the day in Fleet 
Street, between some of the fanatics and the Guards, which 
was stamped out by repeated bayonet charges which killed 
and wounded many. Everywhere were blackened spaces, 
smouldering ruins, stains of blood, and broken weapons, 
everywhere the signs of outrage and of conflict. But the 
incendiary fires were quenched and with them the fire of 
insurrection. The riots were at an end. The one wish of 
every one was to obliterate their memory as speedily as 
might be. The stains of blood were quickly removed from 
the walls of the Bank of England, from the roadway of 
Blackfriars Bridge. The marks of musket shots were 
swiftly effaced from the scarred buildings. 

It was never fully known how far the rioters themselves 
suffered in the suppression of the disorder. The official re- 
turns give lists of 285 direct deaths, and of 173 cases of 
serious wounds in the hospitals. But this can only repre- 
sent a small proportion of the actual casualties. Many 
dead, many wounded, must have been carried away by 
friends and hidden in hurried graves, or nursed in secret 
to recovery. Many, too, perished at Blackfriars Bridge, or 
were hideously consumed in the flames that rose from the 
burning of Langdale's distilleries. But if the number of 
those who suffered remains an unknown quantity, it is 
not difficult to approximate to the destructive power of the 
disturbances. The cost of the whole bad business has been 
estimated at at least £180,000. To that amount an im- 
becile insanity had despoiled London. But the imbecile 
insanity had incurred a deeper debt. In the wild trials 
that followed upon the panic and the violence forty-nine 


men were condemned to death for their share in the riot, 
and twenty-nine of these actually suffered the last penalty 
of the law. It was not, in the eyes of some, a heavy sacri- 
fice to pay. It did not seem a heavy sacrifice in the eyes 
of John Wilkes, who declared that if he were intrusted 
with sovereign power not a single rioter should be left alive 
to boast of, or to plead for forgiveness for, his offence. But 
Lord George Gordon was not worth the life of one man, 
not to speak of nine-and-twenty. 

The folly of the Administration did not end with their 
victory. On the 9th they did what they ought to have done 
Jong before, and arrested Lord George Gordon. But even 
this necessary belated act of justice they performed in the 
most foolish fashion. Everything that the pomp and cere- 
monial of arrest and arraignment could do was done to 
exalt Lord George in the eyes of the mob and swell his im- 
portance. He was conveyed to the Tower of London. 
Though the rising was thoroughly stamped out, and there 
was practically no chance of any attempt being made to 
rescue the prisoner, Lord George was escorted to the Tower 
by a numerous military force in broad daylight, with an 
amount of display that gave him the dignity of a hero and 
a martyr. To add to the absurdity of the whole business, 
the poor crazy gentleman was solemnly tried for high 
treason. Many months later, in the early February of the 
next year, 1781, when the riots were a thing of the past, 
and their terrible memory had been largely effaced, George 
Gordon was brought to the Bar of the Court of King's 
Bench for his trial. His wits had not mended during his 
confinement. He had been very angry because he thou,g;ht 
that he was prevented from seeing his friends. His anger 
deepened when he learned that no friends had desired to 
see him. The fanatic had served his turn, and was for- 
gotten. He was not of that temper which makes men de- 
voted to a leader. He was but the foolish figurehead of a 
fanatical outburst, and when he* was set aside he was for- 
gotten. But when he was brought up for trial a measure 
of popular enthusiasm in the man reasserted itself. He 
behaved very strangely at his trial, urging his right to read 


long passages of Scripture in his defence. Happily for 
him, his defence was managed by abler hands than his 
own. The genius of Erskine, the gifts of Kenyon, were ex- 
pended in his behalf. The unwisdom of the Government 
in prosecuting him for high treason was soon apparent. 
He was acquitted, to the general satisfaction of his sup- 
porters, and of many who were not his supporters. If 
public thanksgiving were returned in several churches for 
his acquittal, one grave manly voice was uplifted to swell 
the approval. Dr. Johnson declared that he was far better 
pleased that Lord George Gordon should escape punish- 
ment than that a precedent should be established for hang- 
ing a man for constructive treason. 

Thus the great Gordon riots flickered ignominiously out. 
Lord George made occasional desperate efl^orts to reassert 
himself, trying to force himself upon the notice of the 
King at St. James's. In 1787 he was found guilty of libels 
upon the Queen of France and the French Ambassador. 
He fled to Holland, where he was arrested by the Dutch 
authorities, and shipped back to England. He was com- 
mitted to Xewgate, by curious chance, on the anniversary 
of the day on which it had been burned by his followers. 
In Newgate he lived for some years, adjuring Christianity, 
and declaring himself to be a follower of the Jewish faith. 
In Newgate the fanatic, renegade, madman, died of jail 
distemper on November 1, 1793. He was only forty-two 
years old. In his short, unhappy life he had done a great 
deal of harm, and, as far as it is possible to judge, no good 
whatever. Perhaps the example of the Gordon riots served 
as a precedent in another land. If the news of the fall 
of the Bastille and the September massacres reached Lord 
George Gordon in his prison, he may have recalled to his 
crazed fancy the fall of Newgate and the bloody Wednes- 
day of the June of 1780. 




The year 1780 that witnessed the Gordon riots wel- 
comed into political life two men, both of whom were 
young, both of whom bore names that were already famil- 
iar from an honorable parentage, and both of whom were 
destined to play very conspicuous parts in the House of 
Commons. One of the two men was known to his family 
alone, and his intimates, as a youth of great promise and 
great knowledge, which gave to his twenty years the ripen- 
ed wisdom of a statesman and a scholar. The other, who 
was eight years older, had been for some years in the pub- 
lic eye, had been the hero of a romantic scandal which had 
done much to make his name notorious, and had written 
some dramatic works which had done more to make his 
name famous. It was a fortunate chance that when the 
House of Commons stood in need of new blood and new 
men the same time and the same year saw the return to 
Parliament of William Pitt and of Richard Brinsley 

It has been said that every reader of the " Iliad " finds 
himself irresistibly compelled to take sides with one or 
other of the great opposing camps, and to be thenceforward 
either a Greek or a Trojan. In something of the same 
spirit every student of the reign of the third George be- 
comes perforce a partisan of one or other of two statesmen 
who divided the honors of its prime between them, who 
were opposed on all the great questions of their day, and 
who represented at their best the two forces into which 
English political life was then, and is still, divided. The 
history of England for the closing years of the eighteenth 
century and the early dawn of the nineteenth century is 


the history of these two men and of their influence. Those 
who study their age and their career are separated as keenly 
and as hotly to-day as they were separated keenly and 
liotly a hundred years ago into the followers of Charles 
James Fox or the followers of William Pitt. The record 
of English party politics is a record of long and splendid 
duels between recognized chiefs of the two antagonistic 
armies. What the struggle between Gladstone and Dis- 
raeli, for example, was to our own time, the struggle be- 
tween Fox and Pitt was to our ancestors of three genera- 
tions ago. All the force and feeling that made for what 
we now call liberal principles found its most splendid 
representative in the son of Lord Holland: all the force 
and feeling that rallied around the conservative impulse 
looked for and found its ideal in the son of Lord Chatham. 
The two men were as much contrasted as the opinions that 
they professed. To the misgoverned, misguided, splen- 
didly reckless boyhood and early manhood of Fox Pitt op- 
posed the gravity and stillness of his youth. The exuber- 
ant animal vitality of Fox, wasting itself overlong in the 
flame of aimless passions, was emphasized by the solid re- 
serve, the passionless austerity of Pitt. The one man was 
compact of all the heady enthusiasms, the splendid gener- 
osities of a nature rich in the vitality that sought eagerly 
new outlets for its energy, that played hard as it worked 
hard, that exulted in extremes. The other moved in a 
narrow path to one envisaged aim, and, conscious of a cer- 
tain physical frailty, husbanded his resources, limited the 
scope of his fine intellect, and acted not indeed along the 
line of least resistance but within lines of purpose that 
were not very far apart. The one explored the mountain 
and the valley, lingered in gardens and orchards, or wan- 
dered at all adventure upon desolate heaths ; the other pur- 
sued in patience the white highway to his goal, untempted 
or at least unconquered by allurements that could prove 
irresistible to his adversary. 

The two men differed as much in appearance as in mind. 
The outer seeming of each is almost as familiar as the 
forms and faces of contemporaries. Fox was massively 


corpulent, furiously untidy, a heroic sloven, his bull throat 
and cheeks too often black with a three days' beard, in- 
finitely lovable, exquisitely cultured, capable of the noblest 
tenderness, yet with a kind of grossness sometimes that was 
but a part, and perhaps an inevitable part, of his wide 
humanity. Pitt was slender, boyish, precise, punctilious 
in attire, his native composure only occasionally lightened 
by a flash of humor or sweetened b}'' a show of playfulness, 
old beyond his years and young to the end of his short life, 
sternly self-restrained and self-commanded, gracious in a 
kind of melancholy, unconscious charm, a curiously un- 
adorned, uncolored personality, that attracted where it did 
attract with a magnetism that was perhaps all the more 
potent for being somewhat difficult to explain. Fox was al- 
ways a lover in many kinds of love, fugitive, venal, illicit, 
honorable, and enduring. Pitt carried himself through 
temptations with a monastic rigor. There was a time when 
his friends implored him for the sake of appearances, and 
not to flout too flagrantly the manners of the time, to show 
himself in public with a woman of the town. His one love 
story, strange and fruitless, neither got nor gave happiness 
and remains an unsolved mystery. 

There were only two tastes held in common by the two 
men, and those were tastes shared by most of the gentle- 
men of their generation and century, the taste for politics 
and the taste for wine. Men of the class of Holland's son, 
of Chatham's son, if they were not soldiers and sailors, 
and very often when they were soldiers and sailors, went 
into political life as naturally as they went into a univer- 
sity or into the hunting field. In the case of the younger 
Fox and of the younger Pitt the political direction was 
conspicuously inevitable from the beginning. The paths 
of both lay plain from the threshold of the nursery to the 
threshold of St. Stephen's. The lad who was the chosen 
companion of his father at an age when his contemporaries 
had only abandoned a horn-book to grapple with Corderius, 
the boy who learned the principles of elocution and the 
essence of debate from the lips of the Great Commoner, 
were children very specially fostered in the arts of states- 



manship and curiously favored in the knowledge that 
enables men to guide and govern men. From the other 
taste there was no escape, or little escape, possible for the 
men of that day. It would have been strange indeed if 
Fox had been absolved from the love of wine, which was 
held by every one he knew, from his father's old friend 
and late enemy Rigby to the elderly place-holder, gam- 
bler, and letter-writer Selwyn, who loved, slandered, and 
failed to ruin Fox's brilliant youth. It would have been 
impossible for Pitt, floated through a precarious childhood 
on floods of Oporto, to liberate his blood and judgment 
from the generous liquor that promised him a strength it 
sapped. It was no more disgrace to the austere Pitt than 
to the profligate Fox to come to the House of Commons 
visibly under the influence of much more wine than 
could possibly have been good for Hercules. Sobriety was 
not unknown among statesmen even in those days of many 
bottles, but intoxication was no shame, and Burke was no 
more commended for his temperance than Fox, or Pitt, or 
Sheridan were blamed for their intemperance. 

William Pitt was born in 1759, when George the Second 
still seemed stable on his throne, and when the world knew 
nothing of that grandson and heir to whose service the 
child of Chatham was to be devoted. He was the fourth 
child and second son; the third son and last child of 
Chatham was born two years later. William Pitt was deli- 
cate from his infancy, and by reason of his delicacy was 
never sent to school. He was educated by private tuition, 
directly guided and controlled by his father. From the 
first he was precocious, full of promise, full of perform- 
ance. He acquired knowledge eagerly and surely; what 
he learned he learned well and thoroughly. Trained from 
his cradle in the acquirements essential to a public life, he 
applied himself, as soon as he was of an age to appreciate 
his tastes and to form a purpose, to equipping himself at 
all points for a political career. When the great Chatham 
died he left behind him a son who was to be as famous 
as himself, a statesman formed in his own school, trained 
in his own methods, inspired by his counsels, and guided by 


his example. A legend which may be more than legend 
has it that from the first destiny seemed determined to 
confront the genius and the fame of Fox with the genius 
and the fame of Pitt. It is said that the Foxes were as- 
sured by a relative of the Pitts that the young son of 
Chatham, then a child under a tutor's charge, showed parts 
which were sure to prove him a formidable rival to the pre- 
cocious youth who was at once the delight and the despair 
of Lord Holland's life. It is certain that the young Fox 
wa« early made acquainted with the ripe intelligence and 
eager genius of the younger Pitt. It was his chance to 
stand with the boy one night at the bar of the House of 
Lords, and to be attracted and amazed at the avidity with 
which Pitt followed the debate, the sagacity with which 
he commented upon what he saw and heard, and the readi- 
ness with which he formulated answers to arguments which 
failed to carry conviction to his da^vning wisdom. Pitt 
loved the House of Commons while he was still in the 
schoolroom; it was inevitable that he should belong to the 
House of Commons, and he entered it at the earliest pos- 
sible moment, even before he was legally qualified to do so, 
for he was not quite of age when he first took his seat. 

The qualities of fairness and fitness which Greek wis- 
dom praised in the conduct of life were characteristic of 
Pitt's life. In its zealous, patient preparation for public 
life, its noble girding of the loins against great issues, its 
wistful renunciation of human hopes, its early conscious- 
ness of terrible disease, its fortitude in the face of catas- 
trophes so unexpected and so cruel; in its pensive isola- 
tion, in the richness of those early successes that seemed as 
if in anticipation to offer compensation for the early death, 
his life seems to have been adorned with certain ornaments 
and ordered by certain laws that make it strangely comely, 
curiously symmetrical. In that youth of his which was 
never quite young, and which was never allowed to 
grow old, in his austere attitude to so much that 
youth holds most dear, in the high passion of his 
patriotism with its eager desire, so often and so sternly 
thwarted, to add to England's glory, he stands apart from 


many greater and many wiser men, in a melancholy, lonely 
dignity. It has been given to few men to inspire more 
passionate attachment in the minds of his contemporaries ; 
it has been given to few statesmen to be regarded abroad, 
by e3'es for the most part envious or hostile, as pre-emi- 
nently representative of the qualities that made his coun- 
try at once disliked and feared. His political instincts 
were for the most part admirable, and if it had been his 
fortune to serve a sovereign more reasonable, more tem- 
perate, and more intelligent than George the Third his 
name might have been written among the great reformers 
of the world. At home an unhappy deference to the dic- 
tates of a rash and incapable king, abroad an enforced 
opposition to one of the greatest forces and one of the 
greatest conquerors that European civilization has seen, 
prevented Pitt from gaining that position to which his 
genius, under conditions less persistently unhappy, would 
have entitled him. To have gained what he did gain 
under such conditions was in itself a triumph. 

The new-comer who entered Parliament at the same 
period as William Pitt was as curiously unlike him as even 
Fox himself. If few knew anything of Pitt every one 
knew something of Sheridan, who had already made fame 
in one career and was now about to make fame in another. 
It may afford consolation to the unappreciated to reflect 
that the most famous English dramatist since Shake- 
speare's day, the brightest wit of an age which piqued it- 
self into being considered witt}^ the most brilliant orator 
of an age which regarded oratory as one of the greatest of 
the arts, and whose roll is studded with the names of illus- 
trious orators, the most unrivalled humorist of a century 
which in all parts of the world distinguished itself by its 
love of humor, was looked upon in his nonage as a dull, 
unpromising boy, chiefly remarkable for his idleness and 

The quality which we now call Bohemianism certainly 
ran in Sheridan's blood. His grandfather. Dr. Thomas 
Sheridan, the friend of Swift, the Dublin clergyman and 
schoolmaster, was a delightfully amiable, wholly reckless. 


slovenly, indigent, and cheerful personage. His father, 
Thomas Sheridan, was a no less cheerful, no less careless 
man, who turned play-actor, and taught elocution, and 
married a woman who wrote novels and a life of Swift. 
At one time he could boast the friendship of Dr. Johnson, 
who seems to have regarded him with an ill-humored con- 
tempt, but Dr. Johnson's expression of this contempt 
brought about a quarrel. The most remarkable thing 
about him is that he was the father of his son. Neither he 
nor his wife appears to have had any idea of their good 
fortune. Mrs, Sheridan once declared of her two boys that 
she had never met with " two such impenetrable dunces." 
None the less the father contrived with difficulty to scrape 
together enough money to send his boys to Harrow, and 
there, luckily. Dr. Parr discerned that Eichard, with all his 
faults, was by no means an impenetrable dunce. Both he 
and Sumner, the head-master of Harrow, discovered in the 
schoolboy Sheridan great talents which neither of them 
was capable of calling into action. 

Eichard Sheridan came from Harrow School and Har- 
row pla3'grounds to London, and, later on, to Bath. Lon- 
don did not make him much more industrious or more 
careful than he had been at Harrow-on-the-Hill. It was 
far pleasanter to translate the honeyed Greek of Theocri- 
tus, with its babble of Sicilian shepherds, its nymphs and 
waters and Sicilian seas, than to follow the beaten track 
of ordinary education. It was vastly more entertaining 
to translate the impassioned prose of Aristaenetus into im- 
passioned verse, especially in collaboration with a cherish- 
ed friend, than to yawn over Euclid and to grumble over 
Cocker. The translation of Aristaenetus, the boyish task 
of Sheridan and his friend Halhed, still enjoj^s a sort of 
existence in the series of classical translations in Bohn's 
Library. It is one of the ironies of literature that fate 
has preserved this translation while it has permitted the 
two Begum speeches, that in the House of Commons and 
that in Westminster Hall, practically to perish. What 
little interest does now cling to the early work belongs to 
the fact of its being a collaboration. Halhed, who worked 


with Sheridan at the useless task, was a clever young Ox- 
ford student, who was as poor as he was clever, and who 
seemed to entertain the eccentric idea that large sums of 
money were to be readily obtained from the reading pub- 
lic for a rendering in flippant verse of the prose of an 
obscure author whose very identity is involved in doubt. 
Aristaenetus did not become the talk of the town even 
in spite of an ingeniously promulgated rumor assigning 
the authorship of the verses to Dr. Johnson. Neither did 
the plays and essays in which the friends collaborated 
meet with any prosperous fate. 

From the doing of Greek prose into English verse Sheri- 
dan and Halhed turned to another occupation, in which, 
as in the first, they were both of the same mind. They 
both fell in love, and both fell in love with the same 
woman. All contemporary accounts agree in regarding 
the daughter of Linley the musician as one of the most 
beautiful women of her age. Those who knew the portrait 
which the greatest painter of his time painted of Sheri- 
dan's wife as St. Cecilia will understand the extraordinary, 
the almost universal homage which society and art, wit 
and wealth, and genius and rank paid to Miss Linley. 
Unlike the girl in Sheridan's own poem, who is assured 
by her adorer that she will meet with friends in all the 
aged and lovers in the young. Miss Linley found old men 
as well as young men competing for her affection and for 
the honor of her hand. 

Sheridan and Halhed were little more than bovs when 
they first beheld and at once adored Miss Linley. Charles 
Sheridan, Richard's elder brother, was still a very young 
man. But Miss Linley had old lovers too, men long past 
the middle pathway of their lives, who besought her to 
marry them with all the impetuosity of youth. One of 
them, whom she wisely rejected on the ground that wealth 
alone could not compensate for the disparity in years, car- 
ried off his disappointment gracefully enough by imme- 
diately settling a sum of three thousand pounds upon the 
young lady. 

There is an air of romance over the whole course of 


Sheridan's attachment to Miss Linley. For a long time 
he contrived to keep his attachment a secret from his elder 
brother, Charles, and from his friend Halhed, both of 
whom were madly in love with Miss Linley, and neither 
of whom appears to have had the faintest suspicion of 
finding a rival, the one in so close a kinsman, the other 
in his own familiar friend. It must be admitted that 
Sheridan does not appear to have behaved with that up- 
rightness which was to be expected from his gallant, im- 
petuous nature. Not merely did he keep his secret from 
his brother and his friend, but he seems to have allowed 
his friend to look upon him as a confidant and ally in 
pressing Halhed's suit upon Miss Linley. Halhed re- 
proached him sadly, but not bitterly, in a poetical epistle, 
the value of which is more personal than poetical, when 
he discovered the real mind of his friend. Then, like a 
wise man if a sad one, Halhed went away. He sailed for 
India, the golden land of so many wrecked hopes and dis- 
appointed ambitions; he long outlived his first love and 
his successful rival; he became in the fulness of time a 
member of Parliament, and he died in 1830. He is dimly 
remembered as the author of a grammar of the Bengalee 
language and of a work on Gentoo laws translated from 
the Persian. 

Sheridan's courtship progressed more and more roman- 
tically. The persecutions of a married rake named Mat- 
thews drove Miss Linley to fly to France with Sheridan, 
to whom she was secretly married at Calais. The revenge- 
ful and disappointed Matthews inserted a libellous attack 
upon Sheridan in the Bath Chronicle. Sheridan extorted 
at his sword's point a public apology from Matthews. 
Further and baser mendacity on the part of Matthews pro- 
voked a second duel, in which the combatants seem to have 
fought with desperate ferocity, and in which Sheridan, 
badly wounded, refused to ask his life at the hands of his 
antagonist and was only rescued by the seconds. A long 
period of separation followed, full of dark hours for Sheri- 
dan, hours only brightened by occasional meetings of the 
most eccentric kind, as when the wild young poet, quaintly 


disguised in the complicated capes of a hackney coachman, 
had the tormenting privilege of driving his beloved from 
Covcnt Garden Theatre, where her voice and beauty were 
nightly charming all London. At last the opposition of 
Linley was overcome, and on April 13, 1773, the most 
brilliant man and most beautiful woman of their day were 
for the second time and more formally married, and a 
series of adventures more romantic than fiction came to 
an end. 

The romance, it is agreeable to think, did not conclude 
with the marriage ceremony. Sheridan seems to have 
offered his wife as devoted an attachment after her mar- 
riage as he had shown in the days of duelling and dis- 
guising that preceded it. He wrote verses to her, and she 
wrote verses to him, long after they had settled down to 
serene domesticity, which breathe the most passionate ex- 
pressions of mutual love. And yet there is a legend — it is 
to be hoped and believed that it is only a legend — which 
ends the romance very sadly. According to the legend 
young Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Sheridan's close friend^ 
felt more than a friend's admiration for the wife of his 
friend. According to the legend Elizabeth Sheridan re- 
turned the passion, which by the unhappiness it brought 
with it shortened her life. According to the legend Lord 
Edward only married the fair Pamela, Philippe Egalite's 
daughter, because of the striking resemblance she bore to 
the St. Cecilia of his dreams. The legend rests on the 
authority of Madame de Genlis, who was probably Pa- 
mela's mother and who is no infallible authority. It is 
possible that the undoubted resemblance of Pamela to Mrs. 
Sheridan is the origin of the whole story. Lord Edward 
was always falling in love in a graceful, chivalrous kind 
of way. But there is no serious proof that his friendship 
for Mrs. Sheridan was anything more than the friendship 
an honorable man may entertain for the wife of his friend. 
The graver and more authentic story of Fitzgerald's life 
has yet to be told in these pages. 

For a brief period after his marriage Sheridan thought 
of devoting himself to the law. But his thoughts and 


tastes were otherwise inclined, and on January 27, 1775, 
not quite two years after his marriage, " The Rivals " was 
produced at Co vent Garden and a new chapter opened in 
the historv of dramatic literature. It is curious to think 
that the clumsiness of the player to whom the part of Sir 
Lucius O'Trigger was given came very near to damning 
the most brilliant comedy that the English stage had seen 
for nearly two centuries. The happy substitution of actor 
Clinch for actor Lee, however, saved the piece and made 
Sheridan the most popular author in London. How grate- 
ful Sheridan felt to Clinch for rescuing Sir Lucius is 
shown by the fact that his next production, the farce 
called " St. Patrick's Day ; or, the Scheming Lieutenant," 
was expressly written to afford opportunity for Clinch's 
peculiar talents. In 1777 came " The School for Scan- 
dal," Sheridan's masterpiece, which was followed by Sheri- 
dan's last dramatic work, " The Critic." Never probably 
before was so splendid a success gained so rapidly, so 
steadily increased in so short a time, to come so abruptly 
to an end in the very pride of its triumph. 

Quite suddenly the most famous English author then 
alive found opportunity for the display of wholly new 
and unexpected talents, and became one of the most fa- 
mous politicians and orators alive. There had, indeed, 
always been a certain political bent in Sheridan's mind. 
He had tried his hand at many political pamphlets, frag- 
ments of which were found among his papers by Moore. 
He had always taken the keenest interest in the great 
questions which agitated the political life of the waning 
eighteenth century. The general election of 1780 gave 
him an opportunity of expressing this interest in the pub- 
lic field, and he was returned to Parliament as member for 
the borough of Stamford. It is difficult to find a parallel 
in our history for the extraordinary success which attended 
Sheridan in his political life as it had already attended 
him in his dramatic career. 

Just on the threshold of his political career Sheridan 
lost the wife he loved so well. He was profoundly af- 
flicted, but the affliction lessened and he married a Miss 


Ogle. There is a story told in connection with this second 
marriage which is half melancholy, half humorous, and 
wholly pathetic. The second Mrs. Sheridan, young, clever, 
and ardently devoted to her husband, was found one day, 
according to this story, walking up and down her drawing- 
room apparently in a frantic state of mind because she had 
discovered that the love-letters Sheridan had sent to her 
were the same as those which he had written to his first 
wife. Word for word, sentence for sentence, passion for 
passion, they were the same letters. No doubt Sheridan 
made his peace. It is to be presumed that he thought the 
letters so good that they might very well serve a second 
turn; but this act of literary parsimony was not happy. 
Parsimony of his written work was, however, Sheridan's 
peculiarity. Verses addressed to his dear St. Cecilia make 
their appearance again and again, under altered conditions, 
in his plays. It is singular enough, as has been happily 
said, that the treasures of wit which Sheridan was thought 
to possess in such profusion should have been the only 
species of wealth which he ever dreamed of economizing. 




Pitt entered public life the inheritor of a great name, 
the transmitter of a great policy, at a time when the coun- 
try was in difficulty and the Government in danger. In 
the January of 1?81 Xorth was still in power, was still 
supported by the King, had still some poor shreds of hope 
that something, anything might happen to bring England 
well out of the struggle with America. In the Xovember 
of the same year Xorth reeled to his fall with the news of 
the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. In those ten 
months Pitt had already made himself a name in the 
House of Commons. He was no longer merely the son 
of Pitt; he was Pitt. He had attached himself to an 
Opposition that was studded with splendid names, and 
had proved that his presence added to its lustre. The 
heroes and leaders of Opposition at Westminster welcomed 
him to their ranks with a generous admiration and en- 
thusiasm. Fox, ever ready to applaud possible genius, 
soon pronounced him to be one of the first men in Parlia- 
ment. Burke hailed him, not as a chip of the old block, 
but as the old block itself. The praises of Burke and of 
Fox were great, but they were not undeserved. When 
the Ministry of Lord North fell into the dust, when the 
King was compelled to accept the return of the Whigs to 
office, Pitt had already gained a position which entitled 
him in his own eyes not to accept office but to refuse it. 

Pockingham formed a Ministry for the second time. 
The new Ministry was formed of an alliance between the 
two armies of the Eockingham Whigs and the Shelburne 
Whigs. Eockingham represented the political princi- 
ples that dated from the days of Walpole. Shel- 


buriie rc])rcsentcd, or misrepresented, the principles 
that dated from the days of Chatham. The King 
would very much have preferred to take Shelburne with- 
out Kockingham, but even the King had to recognize that 
il was impossible to gratify his preference. Even if Shel- 
burne had been a much better leader than he was he had 
not the following which would entitle him to form a 
Ministry on his own account. And Shelburne was by no 
means a good leader. To the Liberal politician of to-day 
Shelburne seems a much more desirable and admirable 
statesman than Eockingham. Most of his political ideas 
were in advance of liis time, and his personal friendships 
prove him to have been a man of appreciative intelligence. 
He had proved his courage in his youth as a soldier at 
Campen and ]\Iinden; he had maintained his courage in 
1T80 when he faced and was wounded by the pistol of 
FuHarton. But his gifts, whatever they were, were not 
of the quality nor the quantity to make a leader of men. 
lie could not form a IMinistry for himself, and he was not 
an element of stability in any Ministry of which he was a 
member. The Administration formed by the alliance of 
Rockino^ham and Shelburne could boast of many brilliant 
names, and showed itself laudably anxious to add to their 
number. In an Administration which had Fox for a Sec- 
retary of State, Burke for Paymaster-General of the 
Forces, and Slieridan for Under-Secretary of State, the 
Vice-Treasurership of Ireland was offered to Pitt. 

Pitt declined the offer. He had made up his mind that 
he would not accept a subordinate situation. Conscious 
of his ability, he was prepared to wait. He had not to wait 
long. During the four agitated months of life allowed to 
the Rockingham Administration Pitt distinguished him- 
self by a motion for reform in the representative system 
which was applauded by Fox and by Sheridan, but which 
was defeated by twenty votes. Peace and reform were al- 
ways passions deeply seated at the heart of Pitt; it was 
ironic chance that associated him hereafter so intimately 
with war and with antagonism to so many methods of re- 
form in which he earnestly believed. When the quarrels 


between Fox and Shelburne over the settlement of the 
American war ended after Eockingham's death in July, 
1782, in the withdrawal from the Ministry of Fox, Burke, 
and the majority of the Rockingham party, Pitt rightly 
saw that his hour had come. Fox resigned rather than 
serve with Shelburne, Pitt accepted Shelburne, and made 
Shelburne's political existence possible a little longer. 
With the aid of Pitt, Shelburne could hold on and let Fox 
go; without Pitt, Fox would have triumphed over Shel- 
burne. From this moment began the antagonism between 
Fox and Pitt which was to last for the remainder of their 
too brief lives. At the age of twenty-three Pitt found him- 
self Chancellor of the Exchequer, and one of the most con- 
spicuous men in the kingdom. Fox, who was ten years 
older, was defeated by the youth whose rivalry had been 
predicted to Fox when the youth was yet a child. 

Pitt's triumph lasted less than a year. Fox, conscious 
of his own great purposes, and eager to return to office 
for their better advancement, was prepared to pay a gam- 
bler's price for power. To overthrow Shelburne and with 
Shelburne Pitt, he needed a pretext and an ally. The pre- 
text was easy to find. He had but to maintain that the 
terms of the peace with America were not the best that 
the country had a right to expect. The ally was easy to 
find and disastrous to accept. Nothing in the whole 
of Fox's history is more regrettable than his unnatural 
alliance with Lord North. Ever since the hour when Fox 
had found his true self, and had passed from the ranks of 
the obedient servants of the King into the ranks of those 
who devoted themselves to the principles of liberty, there 
had been nothing and there could have been nothing in 
common between Fox and North. Everything that Fox 
held most dear was detestable to North, as North's politi- 
cal doctrines were now detestable to Fox. The political 
enmity of the two men had been bitter in the extreme, and 
Fox had assailed North with a violence which might well 
seem to have made any form of political reconciliation im- 
possible. Yet North was now the man with whom Fox 
was content to throw in his lot in order to obtain the over- 

VOL. III. — 8 

226 A LilSTURV OK THE I'olR GEOK(iES. (h. lvii. 

throw of Sholburiie and of Pitt. And Fox was not alone 
anions,^ c^reat Wlii^s in this extraordinary transaction. He 
carried lUirke witli him in this unlioly alliance between all 
that was worst and all that was best in Enp^lish political 
life. The two men whose genius and whose eloquence had 
been the most potent factors in the fall of North a year be- 
fore were now the means of bringing the discredited and 
defeated statesman back again into the exercise of a ])ower 
which, as none knew better than they, he had so shame- 
fully misused. Fox and North between them swept Shel- 
burne out of the field. Fox and North between them were 
able to force a Coalition ]\rinistry upon a reluctant and in- 
dignant King. The followers of Fox and the followers of 
North in combination formed so numerous and so solid a 
party that they were a])le to treat the sovereign with a 
lack of ceremony to which he was little used. Fox had 
gone out of office rather than admit that the right to 
nominate the first minister rested with the King instead 
of with the Cabinet. Now that he had returned to office, 
he showed his determination to act up to his principles by 
not permitting the King to nominate a single minister. 

The King's contempt for North since the failure to 
coerce America, the King's dislike of Fox since Fox be- 
came an advanced politician, were deepened now into un- 
compromising and unscrupulous enmity by the cavalier 
conduct of the coalition. The King, with his doggedness 
of purpose and his readiness to use any weapons against 
those whom he chose to regard as his enemies, was a serious 
danger even to a coalition that seemed so formidable 
as the coalition between Fox and North. Fox may 
very well have thought that his unjustifiable league 
with North would at least have the result of giving him 
sufficient time and sufficient influence to carry into effect 
seme of those schemes for the good of the country which 
he had most nearly at heart. The statesman who makes 
some unhappy surrender of principle, some ignoble con- 
cession to opportunity in order to obtain power, makes his 
unworthy bargain from a conviction that his hold of office 
is essential to the welfare of the State, and that a little 


evil is excusable for a great good. The sophistry that de- 
ceives the politician does not deceive the public. Fox 
gravely injured his position v\dth the people who loved him 
by stooping to the pact with Xorth, and he did not reap 
that reward of success in his own high-minded and high- 
hearted purposes which could alone have excused his con- 
duct. The great coalition which was to stand so strong 
and to work such wonders was destined to vanish like a 
breath after accomplishing nothing, and to condemn Fox 
with all his hopes and dreams to a career of almost un- 
broken opposition for the rest of his life. If anything in 
Fox's checkered career could be more tragic than the 
degradation of his union with the politician whom he de- 
clared to be void of every principle of honor and honesty, 
it was the abiding consequences of the retribution that 
followed it. Fox had fought hard and with success to 
live down the follies of his youth. He had to fight harder 
and with far less success to live down what the world per- 
sisted in regarding as the infamy of his association with 

It is difficult to realize the arguments which persuaded 
Fox, which persuaded Burke, to join their forces with the 
fallen minister whom their own mouths, but a little while 
before, had, in no measured terms, declared to be guilty 
of the basest conduct and deserving of the severest punish- 
ment. All that we know of Fox, all that we know of Burke 
— and it is possible to know them almost as well as if they 
were the figures of contemporary history — would seem to 
deny the possibility of their condescending to any act of 
conscious baseness. Stained and sullied as the youth of 
Fox had been with some of the more flagrant vices of 
a flagrantly vicious society, his record as gambler, as 
spendthrift, and as libertine seems relatively clean in com- 
parison with this strange act of public treason to the 
chosen beliefs of his manhood, of public apostasy from 
those high and generous principles by whose strenuous ad- 
vocacy he had redeemed his wasted youth. Fiery as 
Burke's temper had often proved itself to be, fantastic 
and grotesque as his obstinacy had often showed itself in 


clinging tleliantly to some crotchet or whimsey, that seemed 
to the spectator unworthy the adhesion of his great in- 
tellect, his most eccentric action, his most erratic impulse, 
appeared sweetly reasonable and serenely lucid when con- 
trasted with the conduct that allowed him to guide or he 
guided by Fox in a course that proved as foolish as it 
looked disgraceful, to lead or to follow Fox into packing 
cards with their arch-enemy of the American war. 

On the face of it there is nothing that seems not merely 
to justify, but even to palliate, the conduct of Fox and 
Burke. Ugly as the deed seemed to the men of their day, 
to the men wdio believed in them, trusted them, loved them, 
it seems no less ugly to those who at the distance of a cen- 
tury revere their memories and cherish their teachings. 
One thing may be, must be, assumed by those before whom 
the lives of Fox and Burke lie bare — that men so animated 
by high principles, so illuminated by high ideals, cannot 
deliberately, of set purpose, have sinned against the light. 
They must have felt, and strongly felt, their Justifica- 
tion for entering on a course which was destined to prove 
so disastrous. Their justification probably was the con- 
viction, nursed if not expressed, that to statesmen whose 
hands were so full of blessings, to statesmen, whose hearts 
were so big with splendid enterprises, a trivial show of 
concession, a little paltering wdth the punctilio of honor, 
a little eating of brave words, and a little swallowing of 
principle, was a small price to pay and a price well w^orth 
paying for the immeasurable good that England was to 
gather from their supremacy. 

Whatever may have been the motives which induced Fox 
and Burke to ally themselves with a discredited and de- 
feated politician like Lord North, the results of that 
alliance were as unsatisfactory to the high contracting 
parties as the most rigid believer in poetic justice could 
desire. The Coalition ^Ministry was unlucky enough in its 
enterprises to satisfy (rcorge himself, who had talked of 
going back to Hanover rather than accept its services, and 
had only been dissuaded from self -exile by the sardonic 
reminder of Lord Thurlow that it might be easier for the 


King to go to Hanover than to return again to England. 
Burke inaugurated his new career at the Pay Office by an 
unhappy act of patronage. He insisted upon restoring to 
their offices two clerks, named Powell and Bembridge, who 
had been removed and arraigned for malversation, and he 
insisted upon defendiug his indefensible action in the 
House of Commons with a fury that was as diverting to 
his opponents as it was distracting to his colleagues. Fox, 
who had earned so large a share of public admiration for 
his advocacy of what now would be called liberal opinions, 
was naturally held responsible by the public for the suc- 
cessful opposition of the Coalition Ministry to Pitt's plan 
of Parliamentary reform. 

Pitt's proposal was not very magnificent. He asked the 
House to declare that measures were highly necessary to 
be taken for the future prevention of bribery and expense 
at elections. He urged that for the future, when the ma- 
jority of voters for any borough should be convicted of 
gross and notorious corruption before a select committee 
of the House appointed to try the merits of any election, 
such borough should be disfranchised and the minority of 
voters not so convicted should be entitled to vote for the 
county in which such borough should be situated. He 
suggested that an addition of knights of the shire and of 
the representatives of the metropolis should be made to 
the state of the representation. He left the number to 
the discussion and consideration of the House, but for his 
own part he stated that he should propose an addition of 
one hundred representatives. Pitt's scheme was scarcely 
a splendid measure of reform ; but at least it was a measure 
of reform, and it met with small mercy at the hands of 
the coalition, being defeated by a majority of 293 to 149. 
This was not an auspicious beginning for the new Minis- 
try, and it was scarcely surprising that many of Fox's ad- 
herents in the country should resent his employment of 
the swollen forces that were practically if not technically 
under his command to compass the defeat of a bill which, 
however inadequate, did at least endeavor to bring about 
a much-needed improvement. 


The groat adventure of the Coalition Ministry, the 
deed by which it hojoed to Justify its existence, and by 
wliieh indeed it has earned its only honorable title to re- 
membrance, was the bill which is known to the world as 
Fox's India Bill. If the extending influence of England 
in India was a source of pride to the English people, it 
was also a source of grave responsibility. The conditions 
under which that influence was exercised, the weaknesses 
and inadequacies of the system by which the East India 
Company exercised its semi-regal authority, were becoming 
more apparent with every succeeding year to the small but 
steadily increasing number of persons who took a serious 
and intelligent interest in Indian affairs. A series of 
events, to be referred to later, had served to force into a 
special prominence the ditTiculties and the dangers of the 
existing state of affairs and to fasten the attention of 
thinkers upon the evils that had resulted, and the evils 
that must yet result from its continuance. To mitigate 
those evils in the present, and to minimize them in the 
future. Fox, inspired and aided by Burke's splendid knowl- 
edge of Indian affairs, worked out a measure which was 
confidently expected to substitute order for disorder and 
reason for unreason. In the November of 1783, Pitt ad- 
dressed a challenge to the Ministry calling upon them to 
bring forward some measure securing and improving the 
advantages to be derived from England's Eastern posses- 
sions, some measure not of temporary palliation and 
timorous expedients, but vigorous and effectual, suited to 
the magnitude, the importance, and the alarming exigen- 
cies of the case. Fox answered this challenge by asking 
leave to bring in a bill " for vesting the affairs of the East 
India Company in the hands of certain commissioners for 
the benefit of the proprietors and the public." At the same 
time Fox asked leave to bring in another bill " for the bet- 
ter government of the territorial possessions and depen- 
dencies in India." These two bills, supplementing each 
other, formed, in the opinion of those who framed and 
who advocated them, a simple, efficient, and responsible 
plan for the better administration of England's Indian de- 


pendencies. However tentative and incomplete they may 
now appear as a means of dealing with a problem of such 
vast importance and such far-reaching consequences^ they 
certainly were measures the adoption of which must have 
proved a gain to the country governing and to the country 

The measures, which, it is probable, were originally 
planned out by Burke, but to which it is certain that Fox 
devoted all the strength of his intellect and all the en- 
thusiasm of his nature, were of a daring and comprehen- 
sive character. The first proposed to make a clean sweep of 
the existing state of things in India by the appointment of 
a Board composed of seven commissioners to whom abso- 
lute authority over the East India Company's property, and 
over the appointment or removal of holders of offices in 
India, was to be intrusted for a term of four years. This 
term of four years was not to be affected by any changes 
of administration that might occur in England during the 
time. The commerce of the Company was to be managed 
by a council of directors, who were themselves entirely 
under the control of the seven commissioners. The com- 
missioners and the directors were required to lay their 
accounts before the proprietors every six months, and be- 
fore both Houses at the beginning of every session. The 
commissioners were in the first instance to be appointed by 
Parliament, that is to say, by the Ministry headed by Fox 
and Xorth ; at the end of the four vears thev were to be 
appointed by the Crown. The Court of Proprietors was 
to fill up the vacancies in the council of directors. The 
second and less important measure dealt with the powers 
of the Governor-General and Council and the conduct to 
be observed towards the princes and natives of India. 

The first measure was the measure of paramount impor- 
tance, the measure from which Fox and his friends hoped 
so much, the measure which aroused in a very peculiar 
degree the anger of the King and of the King's fol- 
lowers. They saw in a moment the enormous influence 
that the passing of the measure would place in the hands 
of Fox. The names of the commissioners were left blank 


in the bill, but when their time came to be filled up in 
committee they were all filled with the names of followers 
of Fox. It was argued that were the bill to become law 
a set of persons extremely olmoxious to the King would 
have in their hands for a solid term of vears the entire 
administration of India and the control of an amount of 
patronage, estimated at not less than three hundred thou- 
sand a year. This would enable them to oppose to the 
royal prerogative of patronage an influence of like nature 
that brought with it scarcely less than royal power. It is 
scarcely surprising that Pitt should have employed all his 
eloquence and all his energy against what he described as 
" the boldest and most unconstitutional measure ever at- 
tempted, transferring at one stroke, in spite of all charters 
and compacts, the immense patronage and influence of the 
East to Charles Fox in or out of office." 

If Pitt was the most conspicuous opponent of the India 
Bills, only less conspicuous was a man who, though much 
Pitt's senior, was still young, and who had already made 
himself prominent in the House of Commons, not merely 
as a politician of general ability, but as one w^ho took a 
special interest in the affairs of India. Henry Dundas had 
been a characteristic ornament of the Scottish bar, at once 
a skilful lawj^er and an attractive man of the w^orld when, 
eight years before the existence of the Coalition Ministry, 
he had come to St. Stephen's as Lord Advocate. An am- 
bition to shine as a statesman and an extraordinary power 
of application had equipped him with the varied informa- 
tion that enabled him to assert himself as an authority in 
many departments of national business. He had early 
recognized the importance of India as a field for the powers 
of a rising politician, and he had devoted to India and to 
Indian affairs that tireless assiduity which permitted him 
at once to appear a convivial spirit with the temperament 
and leisure of a man of pleasure, and a master of pro- 
found and intricate subjects, the secret of which was only 
known to those who were acquainted with his habit of early 
rising and his indefatigable capacity for work in the time 
that he allotted to work. When the public attention was 


directed to India, towards the close of the American war, 
and when a very general sense of indignation was aroused 
by the mismanagement that lessened and that threatened 
to destroy British influence in the East, Dundas came for- 
ward with the confident air of one who was intimately ac- 
quainted with the complicat(xl problem and who believed 
himself perfectly competent to set all difficulties right. He 
was the chairman of the select committee of the House of 
Commons appointed to inquire into the causes of the war 
in the Carnatic, and he impressed himself upon the House 
as an authority upon India of no mean order, both in the 
report from that committee and in a bill which he himself 
introduced for the purpose of dealing with the Indian 
question. He did not succeed in carrying his measure, 
but he took care that his knowledge of his subject increased 
in proportion to its growing importance in the public 
view, and his ready eloquence and specious show of infor- 
mation made him a very valuable ally for Pitt and a fairly 
formidable opponent to Fox in the heady debates over the 
measures to which the political honor of the dishonorable 
coalition was pledged. 

The India Bill had a more serious enemy than Dundas, 
a more serious enemy than Pitt so far as the immediate 
effect of enmity upon public opinion is to be estimated. 
There was an attorney in London named James Sayer 
whose private means enabled him to neglect his profession 
and devote himself to the production of political carica- 
tures and squibs. Sayer was one of the many who be- 
lieved in the rising star of Pitt, and he proved his belief 
by the publication of a caricature which Fox himself is 
said to have admitted gave the India Bill its severest blow 
in public estimation. This caricature was called " Carlo 
Khan^s Triumphal Entry into Leadenhall Street." It 
represented Fox in the grotesque attire of a theatrical 
Oriental potentate, and with a smile of conquest upon his 
black-haired face, perched upon an elephant with the 
staring countenance of Lord iSTorth, that was led by Burke, 
whose spectacled acridity was swollen with the blowing of 
a trumpet from which depended a map of India. The 


caricature was ingenious, timely, and extraordinarily ef- 
ficacious in harming the measure and its champions. It 
had an enormous sale ; it was imitated and pirated far and 
wide. It carried to all parts of the kingdom the convic- 
tion that Fox was aiming at nothing less than a dictator- 
ship of India, and it intensified the general animosity 
towards the measures and the men of the Coalition Min- 
istry more effectively tlian any amount of speeches in 
Westminster could have done. But it had no more power 
to weaken the solid majority of the ^linistry in the House 
of Commons than the hurried erudition of Dundas, or than 
what Walpole called the " Bristol stone " of Pitt's elo- 
quence as contrasted with the " diamond reason '' of Fox's 
solid sense. Neither political caricature nor popular dis- 
approval, neither the indignation of the King nor the 
opulence of the fearful and furious East India Company, 
could prevent Fox from carrying his measures in the House 
of Commons by means of the sheer force of numbers that 
he had obtained by his unhallowed compact with North. 

But the power of the new Ministry was vulnerable in 
another place where the most unconstitutional weapons 
were employed against it. The King was eager to avenge 
the affront that had, as he conceived, been put upon him 
by the compulsion that had forced him to accept ministers 
so little to his taste. He was prepared to stick at little in 
order to retaliate upon his enemies, as he alwaj^s conceived 
those men to be who ventured to cross his purposes. Noth- 
ing could be done effectively to change the political com- 
position of the Lower House; something could be essayed 
with the reasonable hope of modifying the composition of 
the Upper House. Lord Temple, a second-rate statesman, 
v\'hose position gave him almost first-rate importance, was 
the instrument by which the King was able to bring very 
effective pressure upon the peers. George wrote a letter 
to Lord Temple in which he declared that he should deem 
those who should vote for Fox's measure as " not only not 
his friends, but his enemies;" and he added that if Lord 
Temple could put this in stronger w^ords " he had full au- 
thority to do so." With this amazing document in his 


possession Lord Temple went from one noble lord to 
another^ pointing out the unwisdom of each in pursuing 
a course which v/ould constitute him an avowed enemy of 
the King, and insisting upon the advantages that must 
follow from the taking of the very broad hint of the royal 
pleasure thus conveyed. Temple's arguments, backed by 
and founded upon the King's letter, had the most satis- 
factory result from the King's point of view. Peer after 
peer fell away from the doomed Ministry; peer after peer 
hastened to prove himself one of the elect, to assert him- 
self as a King's friend by recording his vote against the 
obnoxious measure. 

The course of action inspired by the King and acted 
upon by Lord Temple was flagrantly unconstitutional even 
in an age which permitted to the sovereign so much liberty 
of personal intervention in affairs. It was, however, at- 
tended with complete success. The India Bills were re- 
jected in the House of Lords by a majority of nineteen, 
and tliis defeat, which would not have been regarded in 
more recent times as fatal to a Ministry, however fatal for 
the time being to the measure thus condemned, was in- 
stantly used by the King as a pretext for ridding himself 
of the advisers whose advice he detested. The King re- 
solved to dismiss the ministers, and to dismiss them with 
every circumstance of indignity that should render their 
dismissal the more contemptuous. On the midnight of 
the day following the final defeat of the measure in the 
House of Lords a messenger delivered to the two Secre- 
taries of State, Fox and ISTorth, a message from the King 
stating that it was his IMajesty's will and pleasure that 
they should deliver to him the seals of their respective 
offices, and that they should send them b}^ the Under-Sec- 
retaries, j\Ir. Frazer and Mr. ISTepean, as a personal inter- 
view on the occasion would be disagreeable to the King. 
The seals were immediately sent to Buckingham House 
and were promptly handed over by the King to Lord Tem- 
ple, who on the following day sent letters of dismissal to 
the other members of the Cabinet Council. 

When the House of Commons met, under conditions of 


keen excitement, Fox and Xorth took their seats on the 
Front Opposition Bench with their vast majority behind 
them eager to retaliate upon the King, who had defied 
their voices and insulted their leaders. A young member, 
Mr. Kichard Pepper Arden, rose in his place and moved 
a new writ for the borough of Appleby, in the room of the 
Right Honorable William Pitt, who had accepted the 
ollice of First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the 
Exchequer. We are told that this motion was received 
with loud and general laughter by the Opposition, who re- 
garded Pitt's conduct as a piece of foolhardy presumption. 
And indeed at first Pitt's position seemed difficult in the 
extreme. It was hard to form a Government in the face 
of a hostile majority in the Commons, and in the Lords 
Pitt's perplexity was increased by Lord Temple's sudden 
and sullen resignation of the office to which he had been 
so newly appointed. Various reasons have been given for 
Temple's mysterious and petulant behavior. Some have 
thought that he resigned because he was in favor of an 
immediate dissolution, while Pitt w^as opposed to such a 
step. Others believe that he was eager for some high mark 
of royal favor, possibly a dukedom, which was refused by 
the King and not warmly advocated by Pitt. In spite of 
all obstacles, however, Pitt succeeded in forming a Min- 
istry, the best he could manage under the conditions. To 
Shelburne he offered nothing, and this omission adds a 
mystery greater than that of Temple's resignation to Pitt's 
administration. It must have surprised Shelburne, as it 
surprised every observer then and since. Pitt has been 
accused of ingratitude to the man w^ho had been his 
father's friend and to whom he himself had owed so short 
a time before the leadership of the House of Commons. 
But Pitt was not ungrateful. He was merely astute. He 
read Shelburne as perhaps no other of his contemporaries 
was able to read him, and he gauged him at his true value 
or want of value. Shelburne's glittering unreality, his 
showy unreliability, were to have no place in Pitt's scheme 
of things. Abandoned by Temple, abandoning Shelburne, 
Pitt went his own way, doing the best he could in the face 


of tremendous odds and doing it very well. One of his 
first acts of office was to bring in an India Bill of his own, 
which was decisively defeated in the Commons. For some 
months Pitt fought his hard and thankless fight as a 
minister with a minority behind him. At last, in the end 
of March, he saw his opportunity for a dissolution and re- 
solved to take it. A singular episode threatened to delay 
his purpose. The Great Seal of England was stolen from 
the house of the Lord Chancellor in Great Ormond Street, 
and was never recovered. It may have been purloined by 
some political partisan who believed, as James the Second 
believed, that by making away with the Great Seal he could 
effectively embarrass his opponents. But this " curious 
manoeuvre,'^ as Pitt himself called it, was nullified by the 
prompitude with which another Great Seal was made. 

The result of the dissolution was as gratifying to Pitt 
as it was disastrous to Fox. More than one hundred and 
sixty of Fox's friends lost their seats and earned instead 
the sobriquet of Fox's Mart3TS, and Fox himself had very 
great difficulty in getting elected for the new Parliament. 
So ended the unfortunate episode of the Coalition Minis- 
try. Much as Fox had suffered from the sins of youth, he 
was destined to suff'er even more from this error of his 
manhood. For the rest of his life, save for a few months 
towards its close, he was destined to remain out of office, 
conscious of the great deeds he would have done and denied 
the power to do them, while his antagonist Pitt lived 
through long years of office, long years that were as event- 
ful as any years and more eventful than most years in the 
history of the country. Fox had run up a great debt for 
a little power. He had paltered with his honor, with his 
principles, with his public utterances; he had staked more 
than he had a right to stake on success, and he had lost, 
utterly and hopelessly. If every error in life has to be 
paid for sooner or later, the price due from Fox for his 
apostasy was very promptly demanded and was very heavy. 

It is to be regretted that Pitt began his long period of 
authority by an attempt as stubborn as it was ungenerous 
to keep his great rival out of public life. The election for 


P'ox's constituency of Westminster was one of the fiercest 
conflicts in English histor}'. Every effort was made to 
drive Fox out, every effort to put him in. Beautiful wom- 
en — wliom I'itt described as " women of the people/' in 
parody of the name they gave to Fox of " the man of the 
l)cople " — bribed voters with kisses, while the friends of 
Pitt rallied every man they could muster to the polling 
booths. Fox was returned, but the unconstitutional con- 
duct of the High Bailiff in granting the request of the 
defeated candidate, Sir Cecil Wray, for a scrutin}', and in 
refusing to make a return till the scrutiny was effected, 
might have deprived Westminster for a season of any 
Parliamentary representation, and w^ould have kept Fox 
out of Parliament altogether if he had not been returned 
for the Kirkwall Borough through the friendship of Sir 
Thomas Dundas. Pitt unfortunately backed up the action 
of the High Bailiff with a vehemence of zeal that suggested 
rancor, and that failed of its purpose. Fox was in the 
Commons to defend himself and his cause, and he did de- 
fend himself with an eloquence that even he never sur- 
passed, and that gave its additional glory to its ultimate 

However the generosity or the taste of Pitt's conduct 
towards Fox in this instance might be questioned, there 
could be no question as to the rare ability he soon made 
proof of as a statesman and as a financier. During his few 
and troubled months of office before the dissolution, he had 
introduced an India Bill to take the place of that of Fox, 
which the King and the Lords had shattered. This Bill 
had been defeated by a majority of eight. He now intro- 
duced what was practically the same measure, and carried 
it triumphantly by a majority of more than two hundred. 
It established that Board of Control and that double sys- 
tem of government which existed, with some modifications, 
until the Act of 1858, following upon the Indian Mutiny, 
effected a radical revolution in the administration of In- 
dia. The enemies of Pitt's measure declared that its abuse 
of patronage was as flagrant as and more enduring than 
that proposed by Fox, and for a long time public discon- 


tent expressed itself loudly against the extreme favor that 
was shown to Scotchmen in the filling up of appointments. 
The financial affairs of the country called for a bold 
hand and found it. Lord North had muddled the finances 
of England almost as completely and almost as hopeless- 
ly as contemporary French financiers were muddling the 
finances of France. Pitt faced something that w^as not 
altogether unlike financial chaos with a courage which was 
well and with a genius which was better. The picturesque 
institution of smuggling, capitalized by wealth and rank 
in London, and profitably employing some forty thousand 
adventurous spirits, withered before the spell of Pitt's 
dexterous manipulations. A window tax compensated for 
a lightened tea duty that made smuggling merely a ridicu- 
lous waste of time, and its most sinister effect may still 
be noticed here and there in England in the hideous imita- 
tions of windows painted on to the walls of houses to sup- 
port a grotesque idea of harmony, without incurring the 
expense of an actual aperture for light and air. Pitt 
raised the loans necessary to meet the yawning deficit and 
to minimize the floating debt, and he astonished his world 
by introducing the amazing elements of absolute honesty 
and admirable publicity into the transaction. The prin- 
ciple of patronage that had made previous loans a scan- 
dalous source of corruption was gallantly thrown overboard. 
and the new minister announced to the general amazement 
that the new loans would be contracted for with those who 
ofiered the lowest terms in public competition. A glitter- 
ing variety of new taxes, handled with the dexterity of a 
conjuror, and extracting sources of revenue from sources 
untaxed and very justifiably taxable, rounded off a series 
of financial proposals that inaugurated brilliantly his ad- 
ministration, and that had their abiding effect upon the 
welfare of the countrv. The crown of his financial fame 
was his plan for the redemption of the National Debt in- 
troduced in 178G. His plan was based on the compara- 
tively familiar idea of a sinking fund. Up to the time of 
Pitt's proposal, however, such sinking fund as might exist 
in a time of peace wap always liable to be taken over and 


made use of by the Government in a time of war. Pitt's 
plan was to form a sinking fund which should be made 
inalienable by an Act of Parliament until the Act creating 
11 should be repealed by another Act of Parliament. For 
this purpose Pitt created a Board of Commissioners con- 
sisting of the Speaker, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
the Master of the Rolls, the Accountant-General, and the 
Governor and Deputy-Governor of the Bank of England. 
To this independent and distinguished body of men the 
sum of one million sterling was to be handed over annu- 
ally for the gradual redemption of the existing debt by the 
purchase of stock. 

The story of Pitt's early administration was not all a 
record of success. For the last time, and unsuccessfully, 
he attempted to bring about a Parliamentary reform. For 
the first time, and no less unsuccessfully, he tried to bring 
about that better understanding between England and Ire- 
land which it was his merit always to desire, and his mis- 
fortune never to accomplish. In spite of his genius, his 
eloquence, and his popularity, his position in the House 
of Commons was in a sense precarious. It was not merely 
that he had the bad luck to be opposed by such a galaxy 
of ability as has perhaps never before or since dazzled 
from the benches of Opposition the e3'es of any minister of 
Pitt's intellectual power. To be fought against relentless- 
ly, tirelessly, by a Sheridan, a Burke, and a Fox would have 
been bad enough for a statesman at the head of a large and 
reliable majority and enjoying the uncheckered confidence 
of his sovereign. But Pitt did not enjoy the uncheckered 
confidence of the King, and Pitt's majority was not re- 
liable. Lord Rosebery quotes an analysis of the House 
of Commons dated May 1, 1788, recently discovered among 
the papers of one of Pitt's private secretaries, which serves 
to show how uncertain Pitt's position was, and how fluctu- 
ating the elements upon which he had to depend for his 
political existence. In this document the " Party of the 
Crown " — an ominous term — is set down as consisting of 
185 members, including " all those who would probably 
support his Majesty's Government under any minister not 


peculiarly unpopular." Xo less than 108 members are 
set down as ""' independent or unconnected;" the party 
ascribed to Fox musters 138, while that of Pitt is only 
estimated at 52, with the minimizing comment that " of 
this party, were there a new Parliament, and Mr. P. no 
longer to continue minister, not above twenty would be 
returned " In the face of difficulties like these Pitt stood 
practically alone. His was no Ministry " of All the Tal- 
ents;" the ranks of the ^linistry did not represent, even in 
a lesser degree, the rich variety of ability that made the 
Opposition so formidable. 

If the King was at best but a lukewarm supporter of his 
splendid minister, the heir to the throne was the minis- 
ter's very warm and persistent enemy. \Yhen Pitt came 
to power the Prince of \Vales was, and had been for some 
time, a conspicuous figure in society, a fitful element in 
political life, and a subject of considerable scandal to the 
public mind. George the Third was not the kind of man to 
be happy with or to bring happiness to his children. Pos- 
sessed of many of those virtues which are supposed to 
make for domestic peace, he nevertheless failed signally 
to attach to himself the affection of his children. One 
and all, they left him as soon as they could, came back to 
him as seldom as they could. The King's idea of firmness 
was alw^ays a more or less aggravated form of tyranny, and 
he reaped in loneliness the harvest of his early harshness. 
Between his eldest son and himself there soon arose and 
long continued that feud between the reigning sovereign 
and his heir which seemed traditional in the House of 

George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales, has many 
claims to be regarded as perhaps the worst, and as certainly 
the most worthless, prince of his House. Something was 
to be excused in the son of such a father; some wild oats 
were surely to be so'wn in the soil of a childhood so dully 
and so sourly cultivated. But no severity of early sur- 
roundings will explain or palliate the unlovely mixture 
of folly and of falseness, of debauchery, vulgarity, prof- 
ligacy, and baseness, which were the most conspicuous 


characteristics of tlio Prince's nature. The malignant 
cneniy of his unhappy father, the treacherous lover, the 
perjured friend, a heartless fop, a soulless sot, the most 
ungentlemanly First Gentleman of Europe, his memory 
baffles the efforts of the sycophant and paralyzes the anger 
of the satirist. Genius has wasted itself again and again 
in the attempt fittingly to describe him. To Byron he 
became " the fourth of the fools and oppressors called 
George." Moore immortalized his "nothingness" as a 
" sick epicure's dream, incoherent and gross." Leigh Hunt 
went to prison for calling him a " fat Adonis of fifty." 
Landor, in an epigram on himself and his royal name- 
sakes as bitter as four biting lines could be, could find 
nothing more bitter than to record his descent from earth, 
and thankfulness to Heaven that with him the Georges 
had come to an end. Thackeray abandoned in despair the 
task of doing justice to his existence. " I own I once used 
to think it would be good sport to pursue him, fasten on 
him, and pull him down. But now I am ashamed to mount 
and lay good dogs on, to summon a full field, and then to 
hunt the poor game." 

When Pitt became Prime Minister the Prince of Wales 
was in Opposition, because he was opposed to his father. 
He imagined himself to be the friend of Fox, of Sheridan, 
of Burke, because Fox and Sheridan and Burke were un- 
popular with the King. His career had been one of debt 
and drunkenness, of mean amours and degrading pleas- 
ures, when the son of Chatham passed from his studious 
youth to the control of the destinies of England. Pitt was 
called upon and refused to consent to a Parliamentary 
appeal to the King for the payment of the Prince's debts. 
Pitt could feel no courtier's sympathy for the unnatural 
son, for the faithless Florizel of foolish Perdita Robinson, 
for the perjured husband of Mrs. Fitzherbert. There can 
be no doubt that in the December of 1785 the Prince of 
Wales went through a ceremony of marriage, which could 
not under the conditions constitute a legal marriage, with 
Mrs. Fitzherbert, a beautiful young woman of a little more 
than twenty-nine years of age, who had twice been widowed 

1788. TALK OF A REGENCY. 243 

and was a member of the Roman Catholic faith. The 
town soon rang with gossip, and Avhat was gossip in the 
drawing-rooms threatened to become a matter for " deli- 
cate investigation " in the House of Commons. The denial 
given by Fox in Parliament on the authority of the Prince 
of Wales practically ended any attempt at public inquiry, 
and almost broke the heart of Mrs. Fitzherbert. To her 
the Prince of course promptly disavowed Fox, with whom 
she immediately broke off all friendship. Fox himself, in- 
dignant at the Prince's falsehood and at the base use which 
had been made of his voice, shunned the Prince's society 
for a long time, which might very well have been longer. 
The scandal slowly ebbed; a compromise was arrived at 
between the King and his son; the King made an appeal 
to Parliament; and a sum of money was voted to deal with 
the Prince's debts in consideration of his promises of re- 
form in the future. 

The Prince of Wales did not forget Pitt's attitude tow- 
ards him, and the time soon arrived in which the min- 
ister came near to feeling the force of the Prince's anger. 
The health of the King was suddenly and seriously af- 
fected. Soon after his reign began he had been afflicted 
by a temporary loss of reason. The same misfortune now 
fell upon him in the autumn of 1788. It became neces- 
sary to make arrangements for the appointment of a re- 
gent, and the necessity was the cause of a fierce Parlia- 
mentary controversy. Fox rashly insisted that the Prince 
of Wales had as much right to assume the reins of gov- 
ernment as he would have had in the case of the death of 
the monarch. Pitt maintained the more constitutional 
opinion that it was the privilege of Parliament to appoint 
a regent and to decide what powers should be intrusted 
to him. However little the knowledge may have influenced 
his action, Pitt knew very well that with the appointment 
of the Prince of Wales as regent his own hold of power 
would, for a time, come to an end. The whole question, 
however, was suddenly set on one side by the unexpected 
recovery of the King. The King's restoration to reason 
was well for the minister, and undoubtedly well for the 


kingdom. If Biirkc and Sheridan and Fox were avowedly 
the Prince's friends in Parliament, his most intimate 
friends, those who would be likely to prove influential in 
his mimic Court, were men of a very different kind. These 
were sucli men as George Hanger, the half-mad soldier, the 
" Paragon of Debauchery," as the caricaturists labelled 
the Prince's " confidential friend," who having been almost 
everything from captain of Hessians to coal merchant, and 
from recruiter for the East India Company to inmate of 
a debtor's prison, ended his long and unlovely career by de- 
clining to assume the title of Lord Coleraine, to which he 
became entitled in 1814, ten years before his death. These 
were such men as Charles Morris, the amiable Anacreon of 
Carlton House, who made better punch and rhymed better 
ballads than his fellows of that convivial age, and who 
had the grace to expiate the ignoble noonday of his exist- 
ence by an honorable evening. These were such men as 
the queer gang of blackguards, ruffians, and rowdies who 
haunted Brighthelmstone, the bad and brutal Richard 
Barry, the " Hellgate " Lord Barrymore ; the Jockey of 
Norfolk, with his hair grown gray in iniquities; Sir John 
Lade, \\'hose wife had been the mistress of a highwayman ; 
and the worst and basest spirit of the gang, the Duke of 
Queensberry. Such were the men whom the Prince de- 
lighted to make his companions; such were the men who, 
if the' King's madness had persisted, would have hailed 
with satisfaction the overthrow of Mr. Pitt. 

It were needless to dwell further for the present upon the 
adventures of the Prince of Wales, his amours, his debts, 
his friendships, his fantastic pavilion at Brighton, or his 
unhappy marriage in April, 1795, to his cousin, the Prin- 
cess Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick. Twenty 
years were to pass away before the recurrence of the King's 
malady was to give his eldest son the show of power, and 
in those twenty years the two political rivals — one of whom 
was the greatest of his allies, and the other the greatest of 
his adversaries — had passed away. 




In the days when Clive was first winning his way to 
fame in India there was another young Englishman serv- 
ing John Company, whose ability attracted the notice and 
gained the esteem of the conqueror of Dupleix. It is one 
of the privileges of genius to discern the genius of others. 
But even Clive, when he noted a young volunteer at Falta, 
who seemed destined for better things than the handling 
of a musket, cannot have dreamed that he was giving an 
opportunity to a man whose name was to take as high a 
rank in the history of India as his own, whose deeds were 
to be no less fiercely battled over, whose part in the crea- 
tion of a great Indian Empire was to be as illustrious. 
All that India had been to Clive — a refuge, a battle- 
ground, a theatre of great deeds, and unfortunately also 
of great ofi'ences, the cause of almost unbearable triumph 
and almost intolerable humiliation, all that in as great a 
degree India was to be to Warren Hastings. 

Warren Hastings was born in the December of 1732, in 
Churchill, Oxfordshire, near Daylesford in Worcester- 
shire. His family had been a good as it was an old family. 
But it had come down in the world. It had grown poorer 
and poorer as the generations rolled on, and that manor 
of Davlesford which had been in the family in the davs 
of the second Henry had passed in the year of Sheriffmuir 
into the hands of a Gloucester merchant. When Warren 
Hastings was born, the fortunes of the house had come to 
a very low ebb indeed. Pynaston Hastings, Warren Has- 
tings's father, was, perhaps, as imbecile a man as ever yet 
was the means of bringing an illustrious son into the 
world. He seems to have been weak, foolish, shiftless, as 


wortlik'ss as a man well could be who was not actually 
a criminal. He had married very young, before he was 
sixteen; his wife had died shortly after giving birth to 
A\'arren Hastings. Pynaston nuirried again, entered the 
( 'hurch, when he was old enough to take holy orders, and 
drifted away into the West Indies into outer darkness and 
oblivion, leaving children entirely dependent upon the 
charity of relatives. That charity did not fail, though at 
first it could be but meagrely extended. Warren Has- 
tings's grandfather was desperately poor. All he could do 
for his deserted grandchild was to place him at the charity 
school of the village. There, habited almost like a beggar, 
taught as a beggar, the companion of clowns and playfel- 
low of rustics, the future peer of kings and ruler of rajahs, 
the coming pro-consul who was yet to make the state of 
England as imperial as the state of Rome, received his 
earliest lessons in the facts of life, and dreamed his earliest 
dreams. His were strange dreams. In sleep, says a Per- 
sian poet with whom 3'Oung Hastings was afterwards doubt- 
less acquainted, the beggar and the king are equal. If 
Warren Hastings slept as a beggar, he certainly dreamed as 
a king. We know, on his own statement, that when he was 
but a child of seven he cherished that wild ambition which 
was to lead him through so many glories and so many 
crimes. We are familiar with the picture of the boy 
leaning over the stream on that summer day, and looking 
at the old dwelling of his race, and swearing to himself 
his oath of Hannibal that some dav he would, if the stars 
were propitious, win back his inheritance. 

Somewhere about a 3^ear after this oath of Hannibal 
the fortunes of the lad took a turn for the better. An 
uncle, Howard Hastings, who had a place in the Customs, 
was willing to give a helping hand to the son of his grace- 
less brother. He brought Warren Hastings to London. 
In London Warren Hastings was first sent to school at 
Newington, where his mind was better nourished than his 
body. In after life he used to declare that his meagre pro- 
portions and stunted form were due to the hard living 
of his Newington days. But the Newington days came to 


an end. When he was some twelve years of age, his uncle 
sent him to Westminster School, where his name is still 
inscribed in letters of gold, and where his memory adds 
its lustre to the historic associations of a place that is rich- 
ly blessed with historic associations. Warren Hastinors 
distinguished himself in the great school of Westminster, 
as he had already distinguished himself in the little vil- 
lage school of Daylesford. With his oath of Hannibal 
burning in his mind, he seems to have determined to seek 
success in all that he attempted, and to gain it by his in- 
domitable energy and will. If he was brilliant as a schol- 
ar, he was not, therefore, backward in those other arts 
which school-boys prize beyond scholarship. He was as 
famous on the river for his swimming and his boating as 
he was famous in the classroom for his application and his 
ability. His masters predicted for him a brilliant Univer- 
sity career, and it is possible that Hastings may have seen 
Daylesford Manor awaiting him at the end of such a 
career, and have welcomed the prospect. But the life of 
Warren Hastings was not fated to pass in the cloistered 
greenness of a university or in the still air of delightful 
studies. Howard Hastings died and left his nephew to the 
care of a connection, a Mr. Chiswick, who happened to be 
a member of the East India Company. Perhaps Mr. Chis- 
wick resented the obligation thus laid upon him; perhaps, 
as a member of the East India Company, he honestly be- 
lieved that to enter its service was the proudest privilege 
that a young man could enjoy. Whatever were his reasons, 
he resolutely refused to sanction his charge's career at the 
university, insisted upon his being placed for a season at 
a commercial school to learn arithmetic and book-keeping, 
and then shipped him oif out of hand to Bengal as an 
addition to the ranks of the Calcutta clerks. Thus it 
came to pass that Warren Hastings, like Clive, was sent to 
India by persons in England who were anxious to get rid 
of a troublesome charge. There were a good many per- 
sons in the years to come who were very ready to curse the 
obstinacy of the elder Clive and the asperity of Mr. Chis- 
wick for sending two such terrible adventurers forth to 


the groat battle-field of India. The history of our Indian 
Empire would certainly have been a very different story if 
only ]\Ir. Clive had been more attached to his ne'er-do-well 
son, and if only IMr. Chiswick had been better affected 
towards his industrious charge. In the January of 1750 
Warren Hastings said farewell to his dreams of a scholar's 
garland in England and sailed for India. In the October 
of the same year he landed in Bengal and altered the his- 
tory of the world. 

Gentlemen adventurers who went out to India in the last 
century in the service of John Company seldom knew 
much, or indeed cared much, al)out the condition of the 
country which they were invading. They dreamed mostly 
of large fortunes, fortunes to be swiftly made and then 
brought home and expended splendidly to the amazement 
of less fortunate stay-at-homes. For the past history of 
India they did not care a penny piece. What to them 
were the mythical deeds of Rama and of Krishna; what 
to them the marches of Semiramis and Sesostris, or the 
conquests of Alexander, or the fate and fortunes of the 
ancient kingdoms of the Deccan and Hindostan? They 
cared nothing for the spread of ^Mahommedan influence 
and authority, the glories of the Mogul Empire, the fate 
of Tamerlane, the fame of Aurungzebe. For them the 
history of India began with the merchant adventurers of 
1659 and the East India Company of 1600, with the grant 
of Bombay to England as part of the dower which the 
Princess of Portugal brought to Charles the Second. Nor 
were they moved by imperial ambitions. It did not enter 
into their heads to conceive or to desire the addition of a 
vast Indian empire to the appanages of the English crown. 
They cared little for the conflicting creeds of India, for 
Brahmanism and Buddhism and Jainism and Hinduism 
and the sects of Islam. They knew little of the differing 
tongues talked over that vast continent, more than five 
hundred in number, from the Hindi of one hundred mill- 
ion men to the most restricted dialects of the mountains 
of Assam and Nepaul. India for them meant the little 
space of earth whore the English had a trading interest, 

1750. SURAJ UD DOWLAH. 249 

and the regions of the shadowy potentates beyond from 
whom in some way or other money might be got. 

When Warren Hastings landed in India the relations of 
England and of Englishmen to India were just upon the 
turn. The star of Clivers fortunes was mounting towards 
its zenith; the fiery planet of Dupleix had begun to fail 
and pale and fade. The policy which Dupleix had adopt- 
ed, that policy of intrigue with the native princes of India, 
the English East India Company had been forced in self- 
defence and very reluctantly to adopt. Having adopted it, 
the men of the English East India Company proved 
themselves to be better players at the game than 
Dupleix. Warren Hastings, driving his pen at a 
desk in Calcutta, or looking after silk-spinning in the 
factory of Kazim Bazar near Murshidabad on the Ganges, 
was able to watch almost from its beginning the great po- 
litical drama in which he was destined in his time to play 
so great a part, and which was to end in giving England 
a great Asiatic empire. When Suraj ud Dowlah declared 
war against the English his first move was to fall upon 
the Kazim Bazar settlement. Warren Hastings and the 
other English residents were made prisoners and sent to 
Murshidabad, where, through the intervention of the 
Dutch Company, they were humanely treated. Then came 
the madman's march on Calcutta, the horror of the Black 
Hole, and the flight of the Governor and the Company's 
servants to the little fort at Falta in the Hughli below 
Calcutta. Communications were entered upon between 
Governor Drake in Falta Island and Hastings at Murshi- 
dabad with a view to coming to terms with Suraj ud Dow- 
lah. Warren Hastings was already, however, developing 
that genius for Oriental diplomacy which afterwards so 
characterized his career. He v^as made aware of the 
treason that w^as hatching against Suraj ud Dowlah in his 
own court and among his own friends, and he was quite 
ready to play his part and find his account in that treason. 
Treason is a risky game for a political prisoner at a court 
like that of Suraj ud Dowlah. Warren Hastings was quick- 
witted enough to see that the sooner he got away from that 


court the better for himself. lie succeeded accordingly 
in making his escape and joining the fugitives at Falta. 
Here two things of moment happened to him. He mot 
the woman who was to be his first wife, and he met the 
great man who was to give him his first chance for fame. 
Among the refugees from Calcutta was the widow of a 
Captain Campbell. Warren Plastings fell in love with her, 
and afterwards in an hour of greater security he married 
her. He seem to have been very fond of her, to have 
been very happy with her, but she died very poon after the 
marriage, and the two children she bore him both died 
young, and so that episode came to an end. The more mo- 
mentous meeting was with Clive. "When the Madras ex- 
pedition appeared in the Hughli, Warren Hastings volun- 
teered to serve in the ranks, shouldered his gun, and took 
his part in the fighting round Calcutta. But Clive's keen 
e3TS discerned stuft' for better things than the sieging of 
Indian forts in the young volunteer. When Suraj ud 
Dowlah's defeat ended in Suraj ud Dowlah's death, and the 
traitorous Mir Jaffier. sat on the throne in his stead, War- 
ren Hastings was sent to the court of the new prince at 
Murshidabad, originally as second to the Company's repre- 
sentative, Mr. Scratton, and afterwards as sole representa- 

At ^lurshidabad Warren Hastings had every oppor- 
tunity to justify Clive's acumen in singling him out for 
distinction. The post he held was one of exceptional diffi- 
culty and delicacy. Mir Jaffier was not altogether an 
agreeable person to get on with. The English in India 
were taking their first lessons in Oriental intrigue. They 
were learning that if it was not particularly difficult to 
upset one tyrant and place another on his throne, it was not 
always easy to keep that other on the throne, or at all safe 
to rely upon his loyalty to the men who had brought about 
his exaltation. Mir Jaffier was surrounded by enemies. 
His court, like every other Oriental court, was honeycomb- 
ed with intrigues against him. His English patrons, or 
rather his English masters, proved to have an itching 
palm. They were always wanting money, and Mir Jaffier 


had not always got enough money in his treasury to con- 
tent their desires. So he began to intrigue against the 
English with the Dutch, and the English found him out 
and promptly knocked him off his throne, and set up a nev/ 
puppet in his stead. By this time Clive had returned to 
England, and the direction of the destinies of the East 
India Company was in the hands of the Governor, ]\Ir. 
Vansittart, a well-meaning man whose views were not the 
views of Clive. Clive objected very much to the course 
which the East India Company were pursuing. He wrote 
a letter to the London Board rebuking in no measured 
language the defects and evils of the Indian Administra- 
tion. Once again Clive was the cause of Warren Has- 
tings's advancement. The London Board ordered the in- 
stant dismissal of all the officials who had signed Clive's 
letter and Warren Hastings was appointed to fill one of 
the vacant places. 

The five years that elapsed between the departure of 
Clive for England in 1760 and his return to India in 1765 
are not years that reflect much credit upon the East India 
Company's administration. They had suddenly found 
themselves lifted from a condition of dependency and, at 
one moment, of despair to a position of unhoped-for au- 
thority and influence. Xew to such power, dazzled by such 
influence, they abused the one and they misused the other. 
But the part that Warren Hastings played during this un- 
fortunate five years reflects only credit upon himself. The 
vices of the East India Company were not his vices ; he was 
no party to their abuse of their power, or their misuse of 
their influence. When he was advanced from the Patna 
agency, his place was taken by a Mr. Ellis, who seems to 
have been exceptionally and peculiarly unfitted for the 
delicate duties of his post. He appears to have carried on 
all his negotiations and communications with the Nawab 
Mir Kasim with a high-handed arrogance and an absence 
of tact which were in their way astonishing. Eelations be- 
tween the Nawab and Mr. Ellis, as the Company's repre- 
sentative, became so strained that in 1762 Warren Hastings 
was again sent to Patna to investigate the whole trouble. 


Clive's JTul.frnicnt was already justified : Warren Hastings's 
ability had already found mueh of the recognition it de- 
served; his twelve years of Indian life had changed him 
from the adventurous, inex})erienced lad into the ripe and 
skilful statesman upon whom his masters were confident 
that they could rely in such a moment of emergency as 
had now come. 

It would have been better for the Company if they had 
taken the advice that Warren Hastings gave in his report 
on the quarrel between the Xawab on the one side and 
]\Ir. Ellis on the other. He was a servant of John Com- 
pany, but he was too good a servant not to see the faults 
of his masters and the follies to which those faults were 
leading. The Company had blundered very badly before 
the coming of Clive ; had blundered through false security, 
through negligence, through pusillanimity, through greed. 
After the victories of Clive had placed the Board in 
Leadenhall Street, and its representatives in India, on a 
very different footing, the Company blundered through 
rapacity, through selfishness, through the arrogance born 
of an unforeseen success. All manner of oppressions and 
injustices were committed under the powerful protection 
of the English name. Hastings declared that the only way 
of ending the difficulty was to come to some definite settle- 
ment with the Xawab as to his authority on the one hand 
and the Company's privileges on the other. Together 
with ]\Ir. Vansittart, the Governor, Hastings visited the 
Nawab, and a plan of conciliation was made by which the 
rights of the Nawab and the rights of the Company were 
duly apportioned and declared. But the headstrong Coun- 
cil of the Company refused the propositions of Warren 
Hastings and of Vansittart, and refused to make any con- 
cessions to the ISTawab. The irritated Nawab retaliated 
by abolishing all internal duties upon trade, by which 
act he deprived the English of the unjust advantages for 
which they had contended. It was now a question which 
should attack the other first, and Mr. Ellis, hearing a 
rumor of intended hostilities on the part of Mir Kasim, 
attacked the Nawab, drove him out of his dominions and 


set up Mir Jaffier again for a time. Hastings protested 
against these acts, and declared that he would have re- 
signed but that he was unwilling to leave the Company 
while engaged in a harassing war. But his position was 
uncomfortable. His counsels and those of Mr. Vansit- 
tart were unheeded. English aggression continued. Mr. 
Vansittart left for England in 1764, and in the December 
of that year Hastings followed him, glad to leave a scene 
of so much disorder, a disorder that was to increase alarm- 
ingly, until in the September of 1765 Clive reappeared 
in India and set things straight again. 

Of no period of Warren Hastings's life is less known 
than of the four years which he spent in his native land — • 
from 1765 to 1769. He did not return to England like 
the traditional Nabob, with pockets overflowing with ru- 
pees. He had not employed his time and his energies, 
as so many other servants of John Company had done, 
solely to the furthering of his own fortunes, and the fill- 
ing of his own pockets. If he had sailed for India four- 
teen years earlier as a penniless lad, he returned to Eng- 
land comparatively a poor man. He had tried his hand 
at commerce like every one else in India, but commerce 
was not much in his line. He had the capacities of a 
statesman, he had the tastes of a man of letters, but he 
did not in any great degree possess the qualities that go to 
make a successful merchant. It is even said that he had 
to borrow the money to pay his passage home, and it 
seems certain that when he was home, the generous way 
in which he endeavored to assist his relations sorely taxed 
his meagre means. 

Hastings seems to have sought for distinction in the 
career of a man of letters and not to have found it. The 
ability which he displayed in administration and the writ- 
ing of State papers and political correspondence vanished 
whenever he attempted to produce work that made a 
more ambitious claim to be considered literature. The 
clearness of statement, the width of view, the logical form, 
the firm grasp and profound knowledge which were charac- 
teristic of the evidence he gave before the House of Com- 


inons Coiniiiittee in 17G6, gave place to a thin and nigglint^ 
j)('dantry of style when he turned his pen to the essays 
and the verses of a man of letters. Yet there were some 
topics on which he was eminently qualified to write, and 
by which, under happier conditions, he might have earned 
distinction. While he was in India he had not allowed 
his active mind to be entirely occupied with the duties of 
his official career. That love of literature, that marvel- 
lous capacity for acquiring knowledge, which had charac- 
terized him in his Westminster school-days, remained with 
him at the desk of the East India Company and in the 
courts of Indian princes. He gave great attention to the 
languages and the literatures of the East. Most of those 
English who served their term in India contented them- 
selves, when they troubled themselves at all about the 
matter, with learning as much of the native vernaculars 
with which they were brought into contact as was neces- 
sary for the carrying on of a conversation and the giving 
of an order. With such a measure of knowledge Warren 
Hastings was not content. Pie studied Persian, the court- 
ly language of India, closely; he read much in its enchant- 
ing literature. When he came back to England in 1765 
he was possessed of a knowledge of the most beautiful of 
the Eastern languages, as rare as it was useless then for an 
English man of letters to possess. 

Almost a century later the great American transcenden- 
talist, Emerson, prophesied a rise of Orientalism in Eng- 
land, and he lived to see his words come true. But in the 
days when Warren Hastings was striving to make his way 
in London as an author, the influence of the East upon 
literature, upon scholarship, upon thought, was scarcely 
perceptible. People read indeed the " Arabian Nights " 
in M. Galland's delightful version; read the Persian tales 
of Petit de la Croix; read all the translations of the many 
sham Oriental tales which the popularity of Galland and 
Petit de la Croix had called for in Paris, and which the 
Parisian writers were ready to supply. But serious Orien- 
tal scholarship can hardly be said to have existed in Eng- 
land. Sir William Jones was the only Englishman of dis- 


tinction who was earnestl}^ devoted to Eastern studies; 
but his Persian Grammar, which was in some degree the 
foundation-stone of Persian scholarship in England, had 
not yet appeared, and Sir William Jones was still writing 
to Eeviczki those delightful letters in which he raves about 
the poetry of the Arabs and the Persians. Thus the 
scholarship of Warren Hastings placed him in an ex- 
ceedingly small minority among Englishmen of letters. 
Hastings was not the man to be alarmed or discouraged 
by finding himself in a minority. He was as impassioned 
an admirer of Persian poetry as Sir William Jones; he 
considered that the Persian language should be included 
in the studies of all well-educated men; he dreamed of 
animating the waning fires of Oriental learning at Ox- 
ford. He had a vision in his mind of a new scholarship, 
to be called into being by the generosity of the East India 
Company. He thought of Englishmen becoming as famil- 
iar with the deeds of Eustum as with the wrath of Achil- 
les, as intimate with the Ghazels of Hafiz as with the Odes 
of Horace. He seems to have visited Dr. Johnson in the 
hope of securing him as an ally in his scheme. The scheme 
came to nothing, but the learning, the literary taste, and 
scholarly ambition of Hastings made a strong impression 
upon Johnson, who entertained a stately regard for the 
young man from India. 

It soon became plain to Warren Hastings that he was not 
going to make much of a livelihood either by Persian 
poetry or by the calling of a man of letters. His thoughts 
had turned back to India within a year of his return to 
England, and he had applied for employment to the Com- 
pany, but for some reason his request was not granted. 
In 1768, however, the Court of Directors appointed him to 
a seat in Council at Madras, and early in the following 
year, 1769, he sailed again for India on his most mo- 
mentous voyage. Xot only was that ship, the " Duke of 
Grafton," bearing him to a career of the greatest glory 
and the greatest obloquy; not only was it carrying him 
to a grandeur and a fall almost unparalleled in the history 
of men who were not monarchs. On board the " Duke of 


Grafton " Warren Hastings was to meet with one of the 
most serious inliuenccs of liis life. We have already seen 
how Hastings had married, had been a father, and how 
wife and children had passed out of his life and left him 
alone. Hastings was a man of strong emotions. Now he 
met a woman who awoke all the strongest emotions of his 
nature and won his devotion for the rest of his life. The 
Baroness von Indioff was a young, beautiful, attractive 
woman, married to a knavish adventurer. 

It is certain that she and Hastings felt a warm attach- 
ment for each other; it seems certain that Imhoff connived 
at, or at least winked at, the attachment. It may be that 
the understanding between Hastings and Imhoff was in 
this sense honorable — that the Baron was willing to free 
his wife from an unhappy union that she might form a 
happy union. It may be that Hastings's passion was in- 
deed, in Macaulay's fine phrase, " patient of delay. '^ The 
simple facts that call for no controversy are that Hastings 
met the Baroness von Imhoff in 1769 ; that eight years 
later, in 1777, Imhoff, with the aid of Hastings's money, 
obtained his divorce in the Franconian Courts, and that 
the woman who had been his wife became the wife of Has- 
tings. She made him a devoted wife; he made her a de- 
voted husband. Hastings was never a profligate. In an 
age that was not remarkable for morality his life was 
apparently moral even to austerity. His relationships 
with the Imhoffs constitute the only charge of immorality 
that has been brought against him, and the charge, at 
least, is not of the gravest kind. If Anglo-Indian society 
was at first inclined to be uncharitable, if the great ladies 
of its little world held aloof in the beginning from the 
Baroness von Imhoff, her marriage with Hastings seems 
to have restored her to general favor and esteem. 

Warren Hastings found plenty of work cut out for 
him on his return to India. He had his own ideas, and 
strong ideas, about the necessity for reforms. He was 
much opposed to the policy of sending out as secretaries 
to the local governments men who were without local ex- 
perience and therefore less likely to take a warm interest 


in the Company's welfare, while such appointments were 
in themselves unjust to the claims of the Company's own 
servants. He vehemently urged the necessity for making 
the rewards of the service more adequate to the duties 
of the service, and he announced himself as deter- 
mined to do all he could for "^ the improvement of the 
Company's finances, so far as it can be effected without 
encroaching upon their future income." If Hastings 
could scheme out needed reforms on his way out, he found 
on his arrival that the need for reform was little short of 
appalling. The position which Hastings held was a cu- 
rious one. He was President of the Council, it is true, 
but president of a council of which every member had an 
equal vote, and many of the members of which had per- 
sonal reasons for wishing to oppose the reforms that Has- 
tings Avas coming out to accomplish. A disorganized gov- 
ernment had to be reorganized, an exhausted exchequer 
to be refilled, a heart-breaking debt to be reduced, and 
all this had to be done under conditions that well might 
have shaken a less dauntless spirit than that of Warren 

Warren Hastings was never for one moment shaken. 
In a very short space of time he had greatly bettered the 
administrative svstem, had fostered the trade of the coun- 
try by the adoption of a uniform and low Customs duty, 
and had greatly furthered the establishment of civilized 
rule in the province conquered by Clive. He accomplished 
this in the face of diiliculties and all dissensions in his own 
Council, against subtle native intrigues, against opposi- 
tion open and covert of the most persistent kind. Every 
creature who throve out of the disorganization of India 
naturally worked, in the daylight or in the dark, against 
Hastings's efforts at organization. In 1771, when he was 
made Governor of Bengal, he had attempted much and 
succeeded in much. He fought hard with the secret terror 
of dacoity. Having given Bengal a judicial system, he pro- 
ceeded to increase its usefulness by drawing up a code of 
]\Iohammedan and Hindu law. For the former he used 
the digest made by command of Aurungzebe; for the 

VOL. III. — 9 

258 A niSTORY OF THE FOUR GEORGES. ch. ltiii. 

second lie employed ten learned J'undits, the result of 
whose labors was afterwards translated into English bv 
II allied, who had been the friend of Sheridan and his 
rival for the hand of ^liss Linley. 

The work which Warren Hastings accomplished in In- 
dia must be called gigantic. He created organization out 
of chaos; he marched straightforward upon the course 
which Clive had already marked out as the path of the 
East India Company's glory. The East India Company 
was not very eager to advance along that path. Hastings 
spurred its sluggish spirit, and, though he was not able 
to do all that his daring nature dreamed of, he left behind 
him a long record of great achievements. The annexation 
of Benares, the practical subjection of Oude, the extension 
of British dominion, the triumphs of British arms, must 
be remembered to the credit of Warren Hastings when his 
career as a great English adventurer is being summed up. 
That British Empire in India for which Clive unconscious- 
ly labored owes its existence to-day in no small degree to 
the genius, to the patience, and to the untiring energy of 
Warren Hastings. 

The two heaviest charges levelled against Warren Has- 
tings are in connection with the Eohilla war and with the 
trial of Nuncomar, now better known as Nand Kumar. 
The genius of Burke and the genius of Macaulay have 
served not merely to intensify the feeling against Hastings, 
but in some degree to form the judgments and bias the 
opinions of later writers. But it is only due to the memory 
of a great man to remember that both in the case of the 
Eohilla war and in the case of Nand Kumar there were two 
sides to the question, and that Hastings's side has not 
always been investigated with the care it deserves. The 
adversary who denounced him in the House of Commons 
and impeached him in Westminster Hall, the adversary 
who assailed him with a splendid prose, were alike inspired 
by a longing for justice and a hatred of oppression. But 
it should be possible now, when more than a century has 
passed since the indictment of the one and well-nigh half 
a century since the indictment of the other, to remember 


that if Hastings cannot be exculpated there is at least a 
measure of excuse to be offered for his action. 

There is much to be said from a certain point of view in 
defence of Warren Hastings^s action with regard to the 
Rohilla war. The Kohilla chiefs were no doubt a danger 
to the Nawab of Oude, whom Hastings regarded as a use- 
ful ally of the Company. By the conquest of Rohilkhand 
Hastings hoped to obtain for that ally a compact State 
shut in effectually from foreign invasion by the Ganges 
all the way from the frontiers of Behar to the mountains 
of Thibet, while at the same time this useful ally would 
remain equally accessible to the British forces either for 
hostilities or protection. Put in this way the case seemed, 
no doubt, plausible enough to Hastings, and to all who 
thought with Hastings that Indian chiefs and princes were 
but pieces on a board, to be pushed this way or that way, 
advanced or removed altogether at the pleasure and for 
the advantage of the English resident and ruler. But what 
actually happened was that Hastings, in defiance of the 
whole principle of the Company's administration in India, 
interfered in the contests of native races and lent the force 
of English arms to aid a despot in the extirpation of his 
enemies. It is not to the point to urge that the Eohillas 
were not undeserving of their fate. Even if the Rohillas 
were little other than robber chiefs, even if their existence 
constituted a weak point in the lines of defence against 
the ever-terrible Mahrattas, all this did not in the eyes 
of Burke and of those who thought with Burke justify 
Hastings in lending English arms for their extermination 
and receiving Indian money for the loan. They saw an 
act of hideous injustice and corruption where Hastings 
saw merely a piece of ingenious state policy. He gave the 
troops, he got the money. The Rohillas were destroyed 
as an independent power, and the Company was richer 
than it had been before the transaction by some four hun- 
dred thousand pounds. 

The story of Xand Kumar comes into the history as the 
result of an organic change in the composition and ad- 
ministration of the East India Company. North's Regu- 


Jaliii^^ All of 1773 made many changes in the administra- 
tion of English India. The changes that most directly 
concerned Hastings converted the Governor of Bengal into 
a Governor-General, and reduced his Council to four mem- 
bers. Tlie Governments of Madras and Bombay were 
placed under the joint control of Governor-General and 
Council. Hastings was appointed, naturally enough, to be 
the new Governor-General. His four councillors were 
Richard Barwell, General Clavering, Colonel Monson, and 
l*hilip Francis. Barwell was the only one who was a 
member of Hastings's old Council. The three others were 
in England ; they had been chosen expressly to guide In- 
dian policy in accordance with the views of the home Gov- 
ernment. Clavering and Monson had already earned some 
distinction of a soldierly kind; Francis was by far the 
ablest of the three. The author of the " Letters of 
Junius " was much of a scholar and something of a states- 
man, but he was a man of a fierce and unbending temper, 
prompt to quarrel, hotly arrogant in argument, unrelent- 
ing in his hatred of those who crossed his purposes. 

These were not the kind of men with whom Hastings 
was likely to get on, and from the moment of their land- 
ing in India, where they complained that they were not re- 
ceived with sufficient ceremony, they and Hastings were 
furiously hostile. The meetings of the Governor-General 
and his Council became so many pitched battles, in which 
Hastings, aided only by Barwell, fought with tenacity and 
patience against men whose determination appeared to be 
in every possible instance to undo what he had done, and 
to oppose what he proposed to do. They treated him as 
if he were little better than a clerk in the Company's ser- 
vice; they acted as if their one purpose was to drive him 
out of pul)lic life. 

As soon as it was plain that the new men of the new 
Council were hostile to Pla stings, Hastings's enemies were 
eager enough to come forward and help in the work. One 
of Hastings's oldest and bitterest enemies was the Brahmin 
Nand Kumar. ISTand Kumar had always been hostile to 
Hastings. Now, when Hastings was in danger, was threat- 


ened with defeat and with disgrace, Nand Kumar came for- 
ward with a whole string of accusations against him, ac- 
cusations to which Francis, Clavering, and Monson listen- 
ed eagerly. Nand Kumar accused Hastings of man}' acts 
of shameless bribery, declared that he himself had bribed 
him in large sums, and produced a letter from a native 
princess in which she avowed that she had bribed Has- 
tings in large sums. The three councillors appear to have 
accepted every word uttered by jSTand Kumar as gospel 
truth. Hastings, on his side, refused to be arraigned at 
his own Council-board by a man whom he alleged to be 
of notoriously infamous character, though he and Barwell 
were perfectly willing that the whole matter should be re- 
ferred to the Supreme Court. At last Hastings withdrew 
from the Council, followed by Barwell. The others im- 
mediately voted Clavering into the chair, summoned Nand 
Kumar before them, listened to all that he had to say, and 
on that evidence, in the absence of the accused man, the 
self -constituted tribunal found Hastings guilty of taking 
bribes from the princess, and ordered him to repay the 
sum of thirty-five thousand pounds to the public treasury. 
For the moment it seemed as if Francis and his party 
had carried the day. I Castings had his back to the wall, 
he seemed to be well-nigh friendless. The triumvirate de- 
clared that there was no form of peculation from w^hich 
Hastings had thought it reasonable to abstain, and they 
formally charged him with having acquired by peculation 
a fortune of no less than forty lakhs of rupees in two years 
and a half. Suddenly, when the position of Hastings ap- 
peared to be at its worst, it changed. Nand Kumar and 
two Englishmen named Fowke, who had been very zealous 
against Hastings, w^re charged before the Supreme Court 
with conspiracy, in having compelled a native revenue 
farmer to bear false witness against Hastings. The Chief 
Justice of the Supreme Court was Elijah Impey, Hastings's 
old and attached friend, a circumstance of which much 
has been made. While Nand Kumar was bound over for 
trial on the charge of conspiracy, another and more serious 
charge was brought against him by a native attorney, who 


accused him of forging and publishing a bond. On this 
charge Nand Kumar was arrested, and after a lengthy 
hearing of the case committed to the common jail. 

There is nothing very surprising in this charge of for- 
gery. Forgery was not a very serious crime in the eyes of 
such men as either Nand Kumar or his accuser. It was 
made plain that, whether he had forged the bond or no, 
he had forged the letter from the princess upon which the 
charge against Hastings was based, for the princess her- 
self declared it to be a forgery. It had aroused some sus- 
picion even before the disclaimer, on account of the sig- 
nature, which did not resemble her signature in undoubt- 
ed and authentic communications. On the question of the 
forged bond Nand Kumar was duly and apparently fairly 
tried. It was not very much of a charge. The business 
was very old. The native attorney had been seeking for 
some time to bring Nand Kumar to trial, and had only 
substituted a criminal for a civil suit when, the establish- 
ment of the Supreme Court enabled him to do so. 

Nand Kumar's trial ended in conviction, and conviction 
for forgery brought with it by the English law sentence 
of death. Whatever may be thought of the crime of for- 
gery in England, it certainly was not looked upon in India 
by Indians as a criminal offence of a kind that called for 
the severest penalty of the law. But Nand Kumar had 
been tried by English law. His judges, in order to show 
their fidelity not merely to the spirit but to all the forms 
of English law, had worn their heavy wigs all through the 
torrid heat of those Calcutta June days. By the English 
law he was convicted and sentenced to death. The tri- 
umvirate made little or no attempt to save the man on 
whose word they had relied. On August 5, 1775, Nand 
Kumar was hanged on the Maidan outside Calcutta. He 
met his death with the composed courage of a man who 
looked upon himself as a martyr. Whatever his offences 
may have been, he had done nothing which in his own 
eyes, or in the eyes of his fellow-countrymen, called for 
the pitiless punishment which fell upon him. 

Of course, the important question is how far, if at all, 


Hastings was concerned in the death of Nand Kumar. 
That is just the question which it is impossible to answer 
definitely. The certain facts are that Nand Kumar was 
Hastings's enemy, that Impey was Hastings's friend; that 
at a moment of grave crisis in Hastings's life, when Nand 
Kumar was the most eminent witness against his name 
and fame, that witness was arraigned on a charge that was 
very old, that had been suddenly converted from a civil 
to a criminal charge; that he w^as tried, found guilty, and 
executed. On the basis of that bare narrative of facts it 
would seem that if Hastings had nothing to do with the 
mattei', he might almost as well have had as far as the 
judgment of posterity went. The thing was too apt, the 
conditions too peculiar not to leave their stigma upon the 
memory of the man who gained most by them. 

At the same time it must be remembered that, however 
black the arguments against Hastings may seem, there is 
no positive proof that he was directly implicated in what 
his finemies called the judicial murder of Nand Kumar. 
It must be remembered that the writer who has gone most 
deeply into the whole ugly story, Sir James Stephen, in 
his careful " Story of Nuncomar," has after long and ex- 
haustive analysis of every particular of the case recorded 
his judgment in favor of Impey and of Hastings. Sir 
James Stephen's judgment is not final, indeed, but it 
must have weight with any one who attempts impartially 
to appreciate two public men who have been accused for 
more than a century of a terrible crime. Sir James Stephen 
believes that Nand Kumar's trial was perfectly fair, that 
Hastings had no share whatever in the prosecution, and 
that there was no collusion of any kind between Hastings 
and Impey with regard to the trial, the verdict, or the 
execution. Every one must form as best he may his own 
judgment upon the matter and the men; but Sir James 
Stephen's opinion is one that must be taken into account 
in any attempt to decide. 

The death of Nand Kumar did not end the struggle 
between Hastings and his three antagonists. While they 
made no further attempt of a like kind — the fate of Nand 


Kniiiar, said Franciy, would prevent any further native 
information against the Governor-General — they still 
resolutely strove by all possible means to cross and check 
him. It is not necessary to follow in all their mean and 
wearisome details the particulars of that prolonged con- 
flict. The odds were against Hastings until the death of 
Monson, when, by means of his own casting vote and the 
adhesion of Barwell, Hastings found himself the master 
of the majority at the Council-table. But the persistence 
of the attacks had their result at home, where an ill-advised 
offer of resignation made by Hastings was seized upon by 
the Directors of the Company. The resignation was ac- 
cepted, Wheler was appointed Governor-General in his 
stead, and pending his arrival in India the post was to be 
filled by Clavering. 

This was a severe blow for Hastings. At first he thought 
of yielding to it, in which case his career in India would 
have been closed. But Clavering's indecent eagerness to 
seize upon the Governor-Generalship before it was fairly 
vacant forced Hastings to defiance. He refused to sur- 
render his office to Clavering. Clavering called upon the 
army to support him. Hastings called upon the army to 
stand fast by him. The army followed Hastings, and the 
support of the men of the sword was follow^ed by the 
support of the men of the robe. The judges of the Su- 
preme Court backed up Hastings and censured Clavering, 
and a little later Clavering's death left Hastings for the 
time supreme in the Council-chamber. His supremacy 
was contested after the arrival of Wheler, w^ho immediately 
sided with Francis against Hastings. But the supremacy 
was not overthrown. Hastings was in the majority; he 
would not allow the alliance of Francis and Wheler to im- 
pede him in his purposes, and he stuck to his post as Gov- 

The East India Company made no effort to enforce his 
resignation. The Court of Directors resented his conduct, 
and found fault with him persistently, but they could not 
overlook his influence with the Court of Proprietors, and 
the condition of affairs in India was too grave to make the 


dismissal of Hastings wise or politic. The Government 
bore Hastings little love, and the King in particular was 
much incensed at his refusal to resign, and was all for his 
recall and the recall of Barwell who had abetted, and the 
judges who had supported him. But the struggle with the 
American colonies absorbed the attention of the Adminis- 
tration too closely to allow them to interfere so markedly 
in the affairs of India at a moment when interference 
might perhaps have a result not unlike the civil war. 

English opposition was not the only difficulty that War- 
len Hastings had to contend with. Like the monarch in 
the Arabian tale who discerns armies marching against 
his capital from every point of the compass, Hastings 
found enemies rising up against him in all directions. A 
league of three native powers menaced the safety of the 
British possessions. The Mahratta states combined with 
the Nizam of the Deccan. Both again combined with 
a new power whose rise had been as rapid as it was alarm- 
ing, the Mohammedan power of Haidar in Mysore. When 
Warren Hastings arrived in India the second time Haidar 
was in his sixty-seventh year. He was born in 1702 as the 
son of a Mogul officer in the Punjaub. At his death 
Haidar held a rank somewhat similar to that of a captain 
in the service of the Emperor of Delhi. Haidar deemed, 
and rightly deemed, that there was little or no opportunity 
for his ambition in that service, and his eyes seeking for 
a better chief, found the man in Nunjeraj, the nominal 
vizier and real ruler of the Kajah of Mysore. In 1750 
Haidar persuaded the troops under his command to leave 
their Mogul prince and take service with the sovereign of 
Mysore. Under that sovereignty he rose rapidly to dis- 
tinction. Though he was little better than a robber chief- 
tain, the ablest and most daring robber of a horde of rob- 
bers, his power grew so rapidly that in time he was able 
to supplant Nun j era j, and in the end to usurp the sov- 
ereignty of Mysore in 1761. 

Haidar had his bitter grudge against the English. In 
1771 he had been badly beaten by the ^lahrattas and had 
appealed to the English to help him, as they had under- 


taken by treaty to do. But the help was refused to the de- 
feated prince, and the defeated prince swore an oath of 
vengeance against the English, and when the time seemed 
ripe he did his best to keep his oath. When in 1779 France 
declared war against England, Haidar declared in favor 
of the French. He gave his sword to the service of the 
Grand Confederacy in 1778 and prepared to march upon 
Madras. The President and the Council were taken un- 
awares. It was not until Haidar had marched with fire 
and sword into the Carnatic, and that the smoke of the 
villages he destroyed in his progress could be seen from 
Madras, that they learned that Haidar was in earnest and 
not merely making a menace in the hope of frightening 
the English into an advantageous treaty. Hastings him- 
self seems to have been convinced that Haidar did not 
mean to attack the Company, but when the Mysore prince's 
purpose was plain every effort was made to stay his onset. 
Lord ^facartney, although not one of the Company's ser- 
vants, was made Governor of Madras. Haidar w^as com- 
pelled for the time to abandon his attempt upon the Car- 
natic. In 1782 his hatred of the English w^as ended by his 
sudden death. But he bequeathed it as a rich legacy to his 
son Tippu, a man as daring and as ambitious as his sire. 

Hastings won away by concessions the Mahrattas and 
the Xizam from the cause of Tippu. But Tippu had his 
French allies, and Tippu and his French allies carried on 
a campaign successful enough to force the English prac- 
tically to appeal for a peace, which Tippu accorded in a 
treaty flattering at once to his pride and to his ambition. 
It was a somewhat dearly bought peace for the English, 
for Tippu, regarding the advances of the English as a 
proof of their weakness, made demands far more arrogant 
than his successes justified, and those demands were agreed 
to by the English envoys. The treaty with Tippu had to 
be made on a basis of mutual restitution of conquests, so 
that England was left at the end of the struggle against 
Mysore with a great loss both of men and money, and no 
advantages, territorial or strategical, to set against the loss. 
Even the peace upon these terms obtained did not prove 


9 lasting peace. Tippu was not unnaturally tempted by 
the concessions of the English into further displays of 
arrogance which in time inevitably resulted in another 
war. But by the time that war broke out Warren Has- 
tings had returned to England and had no further personal 
concern with the affairs of British India. 

In the mean time Hastings's feud with his antagonists 
on the Council-board continued. A kind of reconciliation, 
a kind of agreement with Francis, enabled Hastings to al- 
low Harwell to return to England and still to leave the 
Governor-General in authority at the Board. But Hastings 
found that reconciliation or agreement with Francis was 
practically impossible. Rightly or wrongly, Francis re- 
newed his old policy of attacking every proposal and in- 
terfering with every project that Hastings entertained. At 
last the long quarrel came to a violent head. Hastings re- 
plied to one of Francis's minutes in some severe words, in 
which he declared himself unable to rely upon Francis's 
word, as he had found Francis to be a man devoid of truth 
and honor. 

Such a charge made in those days was generally to be 
met with in only one way. In that way Francis met it. 
Francis challenged Hastings to a duel. Hastings accept- 
ed the challenge. The antagonists met, exchanged shots, 
and Francis fell severely wounded before the pistol of 
Hastings. Hastings sent friendly messages to Francis 
and offered to visit him, but Francis rejected his overtures 
absolutely, and on his return to health renewed his attacks 
upon Hastings until the close of the year, when he sailed 
for England to carry on more successfully his plans 
against his enemy. 

Well as the Supreme Court had served Hastings in the 
case of Nuncomar and in the quarrel with Clavering, the 
time came when Hastings found himself placed in a posi- 
tion of temporary hostility to that Court and to his old 
friend Impey. The bad machinery of the Act of 1773 left 
room for almost every possibility of friction between the 
Supreme Court on the one hand and the Council on the 
other, instead of framing, as it should have framed, its 


nioasiirc so as to allow the two powers to work harmonious- 
ly top^cthcr, each in its own sphere, for the welfare of 
British India. The friction grew more intense as time 
went on. Sometimes one party to the quarrel was in the 
right, sometimes the other. Whichever was the case, the 
spectacle of the quarrel was in itself sufficiently humili- 
ating and sufficiently dangerous. Hastings devised a 
scheme for the better regulation of the powers and privi- 
leges of the two conflicting bodies, but his scheme was put 
on one side by the British Government, and the Court 
and the Council remained as irreconcilable as before. 
At last it reached such a pitch that the Court issued a 
summons against the Government. The Government ig- 
nored the summons; things stood at a dead-lock; the per- 
sonal relationships of Hastings and Impey were strained 
almost to severance. In this crisis Hastings thought of 
and carried out a compromise. He offered to Impey the 
presidency of the Company's chief civil court. Impey ac- 
cepted the offer, and, though he has been severely censured 
for what has been called the taking of a bribe, the com- 
promise proved to be the best way out of the difficulty that 
had arisen. Impey, who has been happily called the first 
of Indian codifiers, showed himself to be an excellent head 
for the provincial courts that were thus put under his 
control. The provincial courts had been hitherto more of a 
curse than a blessing; under Impey's guidance they were 
brought into harmony wdth the Supreme Court. Impey 
was not long suffered to remain in his new office. Two 
years after his acceptance of the post he was removed from 
it by order of the Court of Directors. But the work he 
had done in that short time was good work and left abiding 
traces. Hastings's plan had borne fruit in Impey's 
" Code," and afterwards in the passing of an Act of Par- 
liament clearly defining the jurisdiction and the powers 
of the Supreme Court. 

One of the latest acts of Warren Hastings's administra- 
tion was also one of the acts that most provoked the in- 
dignation and the resentment of those who in England 
were watching with hostile eyes the progress of his career. 


Chait Singh, the Eajah of Benares, held authority at first 
under the ruler of Oude, and afterwards under the govern- 
ment of the East India Company, to whom the sovereign 
of Oude had transferred it. The Rajah of Benares paid a 
certain tribute to the Company. The heavy necessities of 
the war compelled Hastings to call upon the Rajah for a 
larger sum. The step was not unusual. In time of war a 
vassal of the Company might very well expect to be called 
upon for an increased levy. But the Rajah of Benares was 
very unwilling to give this proof of his devotion to the 
Company. He demurred, temporized, promised aid of men 
and arms, which was never rendered. Hastings seems to 
have been convinced, first of all, that the Rajah was pos- 
sessed of enormous wealth, and could well afford to pay 
heavily for the privilege of being ruled over by the Com- 
pany, and in the second place that it was necessary for the 
power and influence of the Company to force the almost 
mutinous Rajah to his knees. He made a final demand 
for no less than fifty lakhs, or half a million pounds, and 
set off himself for Benares to compel the Rajah to obey. 

Hastings never wanted courage, but his Benares expedi- 
tion was certainly the most daring deed of his whole life. 
He entered the sacred city of Benares attended by an escort 
of a mere handful of men, and in Benares, in the midst 
of a hostile population, and practically in the power of the 
Rajah, he acted as if he were the absolute master of prince, 
people, and city. He insisted upon his full demands being 
complied with, and as the Rajah's reply appeared to be un- 
satisfactory he immediately ordered his assistant, Mr. 
Markham, to place the Rajah under arrest. The audacity 
of the step was so great as to suggest either that Has- 
tings was acting with the recklessness of despair, or had 
formed no thought as to the not merely possible but prob- 
able result of his action. The Rajah accepted the confine- 
ment to his palace with a dignified protest. Two com- 
panies of sepoys w^ere placed to guard him. These sepoys 
had no ammunition; they were surrounded by swarms of 
the Rajah's soldiery raging at the insult offered to their 
lord. The Rajah's men fell upon the sepoys and cut them 


find thoir English officers to pieces. The Eajah lowered 
himself to the river by a rope of turbans, crossed the 
Ganges, and shut himself up in his stronghold of Ram- 
nagar. Hastings's life was in imminent peril. Had he 
remained where he was he and his thirty Englishmen and 
his twenty sepoys would have been massacred. He fled 
in the darkness of the night to the fortress of Chunar, 
about thirty miles from Benares, where there was a small 
garrison of the Company's troops. 

However rash Hastings might have been in provoking 
the conflict with the Eajah, once it was provoked he carried 
himself with admirable courage and coolness. Shut up 
with a small force in a region blazing with armed rebellion, 
menaced by an army of forty thousand men, he acted with 
as much composure and ability as if he were the unques- 
tioned master of the situation. He declined all offers of 
assistance from the Vizier of Oude, rejected all Chait 
Singh's overtures for peace, and issued his orders to the 
forces that were gradually rallying around him with rare 
tact and judgment. In a very short time the wdiole aspect 
of affairs changed. The Company's forces under Major 
Popham defeated the Rajah's troops, captured fort after 
fort, drove the Rajah to take refuge in Bundelcund, and 
brought the city and district of Benares under British rule 
again. Hastings immediately declared that the fugitive 
Rajah's estates were forfeited, and he bestowed them upon 
the Rajah's nephew upon tributary terms which bound him 
faster to the Company, and exacted double the revenue for- 
merly payable into the Company's exchequer. 

But the money which Hastings so urgently needed, the 
money for which he had struck his bold stroke at Benares, 
was still lacking. All the booty gained in the reduction 
of Benares had been divided among the victors; none of 
it had found its way into the Company's coffers. The 
Vizier of Oude was deeply in the Company's debt, but the 
Vizier of Oude was in desperately straitened circumstances, 
and could not pay his debt. Knowing Hastings's need, the 
Vizier exposed to him certain plans he had formed for 
raising money by seizing upon the estates of the two 


Begums, his mother, the widow of the late Nawab, and his 
grandmother, the late Nawab's mother. The Vizier may 
have had just claims enough upon the Begums, but it was 
peculiarly rash and unjustifiable of Hastings to make 
himself a party to the Vizier's interests. Hastings, un- 
happily for himself, lent the Vizier the aid of the Com- 
pany's troops. The Begums, who were quite prepared to 
resist their feeble-spirited relation, did not go so far as to 
oppose the Company in arms. Their palace was occupied, 
their treasure seized, their servants imprisoned, and they 
themselves suffered discomforts and slights of a kind 
which constituted very real indignities and insults in the 
eyes of Mohammedan women. This was practically the 
last, as it was the most foolish, act of Hastings's rule. It 
had the misfortune for him of stirring the indignant soul 
of Burke. 





Burke's spacious mind was informed by a passion for 
justice. He was not cast in the mould of men who make 
concessions to their virtues or compacts with their virtues. 
He could not for a moment admit that the aggrandizement 
of the empire should be gained by a single act of injustice, 
and in his eyes AYarren Hastings's career was stained by 
a long succession of acts of injustice. He certainly would 
not do evil that good might come of it. If the Rohilla 
war was a crime, if the execution of Nand Kumar was an 
infamy, if the deposition of Chait Singh and the plun- 
dering of the Begums were crimes, then no possible advan- 
tage that these acts might cause to the temporal greatness 
of the State could weigh for one moment in the balance 
with Burke. In the high court of Burke^s mind Warren 
Hastings was a doomed, a degraded man, even though it 
could have been proved, as indeed it would have been hard 
to prove, that any ill deeds which Warren Hastings had 
done were essential to the maintenance of English rule 
and English glory in India. Burke argued that English 
rule in India, English glory in India, did not gain but only 
lost by ill deeds. But if England's gain and England's 
glory in India depended upon such deeds, he for his part 
\\ould have refused the gain and shuddered at the glory. 

If Burke's all-conquering passion was a passion for jus- 
tice, perhaps his keenest political taste was for India and 
the affairs of India. At a time when our Indian Empire 
was merely in its dawn, at a time when the affairs of India 
were looked upon by the nation at large as the commercial 
matters of a company, Burke allowed all the resources of 
his great mind to be employed in the study of India. He 


knew India — he who had never sailed its seas or touched 
its shores — as probably no other Englishmen of his time 
knew India, not even those whose lives had been for the 
most part passed in the country. And this comprehensive 
knowledge Burke was able to impart again with a readi- 
ness that was never unreliable, with a copiousness that was 
never redundant. He gave a fascination to the figures of 
Indian finance; he made the facts of contemporary Indian 
history live with all the charm of the most famous events 
of Greek or Roman history. India in his hands became 
what it rightly is, but what few had thought it till then, 
one of the most fascinating of human studies. Indian 
affairs on his lips allied all the allurement of a romance 
with all the statistical accuracy of a Parliamentary report. 
Such a genius for the presentation of facts inspired by 
such a passion for justice has enriched English literature 
with some of its noblest and most truthful pages. 

The pith of all Burke's Indian policy, the text upon 
which all his splendid sermons of Indian administration 
were preached, is to be found in one single sentence of the 
famous speech on the ^abob of Arcot's debts. In that 
single sentence the whole of Burke's theory of government 
is summed up with the directness of an epigram and with 
the authority of a law. " Fraud, injustice, oppression, 
peculation, engendered in India, are crimes of the same 
blood, family, and caste, with those that are born and 
bred in England." Outside the noble simplicity of that 
ethical doctrine Burke could not and would not budge. 
That sentence represents the whole difference between him 
and the man whom he afterwards accused, between him 
and the men of whom that man came to be the representa- 
tive. Burke's morality was direct, uncompromising, un- 
alterable by climatic conditions or by the supple moralities 
of other races. The morality of Warren Hastings and of 
those who thought with and acted for Warren Hastings 
v.^as the morality of Clive beforehand, was the morality 
that had been professed and practised time and again since 
the days of Clive and Hastings by the inheritors of their 
policy in India, The ingenious theory was set up that in 


dealing with Oriental races it was essential for the Eng- 
lishman to employ Oriental means of carrying his point. 
If an Oriental would lie and cheat and forge and, if needs 
were, murder, why then the Englishman dealing with him 
must lie and cheat and forge and murder too, in order to 
gain the day. Things that he would not dare to do, things 
that, to do him justice, he would not dream of doing in 
England, were not merely permissible but justifiable, not 
merely justifiable but essential in his intercourse with 
Asiatic princes and peoples, with dexterous Mohammedan 
and dexterous Hindoo. The policy was inevitably new in 
Burke's time; it has been upheld again and again since 
Burke's time. The theory which allowed Clive to forge 
and Warren Hastings to plunder was the same principle 
which led English soldiers three generations later to make 
Brahmins wipe up blood before being killed, which prompt- 
ed them to blow their prisoners from the cannon's mouth 
io the hope that their victims should believe that their 
souls as well as their bodies were about to perish, which 
instigated gallant men to suggest in all seriousness the 
advisability of flaying alive their captured mutineers. The 
influence of the East is not always a wholesome influence 
upon the w^anderer from the West. It is displayed at its 
worst when it leads great men, as Clive and Hastings un- 
doubtedly were great men, into the perpetration of evil 
actions, and the justification of them on the principle that 
in dealing with an Oriental the Englishman's morality 
undergoes a change, and becomes for the time and the hour 
an Oriental morality. 

Against such an adversary, Hastings, ignorant of the 
conditions of English political life, could bring forward 
no better champion than Major Scott. Hastings opposed 
to the greatest orator and most widely informed man of his 
age, a man of meagre parts, who only succeeded in weary- 
ing profoundly the House of Commons and every other 
audience to which he appealed. Such a proconsul as War- 
ren Hastings standing his trial upon such momentous 
charges needed all the ability, all the art that an advocate 
can possess to be employed in his behalf. Had Hastings 


been so lucky as to find a defender endowed, not indeed 
with the genius or the knowledge of Burke, for there was 
no such man to be found, but with something of the genius, 
something of the knowledge of Burke, his case might have 
appeared very different then and in the eyes of posterity. 
If Scott could have pleaded for Hastings eloquently, brill- 
iantly, with something of the rich coloring, something of 
the fervid enthusiasm that was characteristic of the utter- 
ances of his great antagonist, he might have done much 
to stem, if not to turn the stream of public thought. But 
Warren Hastings was not graced so far. His sins had in- 
deed found him out when he was cursed with such an 
enemy and cursed with such a friend. 

It is clear that Hastings himself on his return had little 
idea of the serious danger with which he was menaced. He 
seems to have become convinced that his services to the 
State must inevitably outweigh any accidents or errors in 
the execution of those services. He honestly believed him- 
self to have been a valuable and estimable servant of his 
country and his Crown. We may very w^ell take his re- 
peated declarations of his own integrity and uprightness, 
not, indeed, as proof of his possession of those qualities, 
but as proof of his profound belief that he did possess 
them. When he landed in England he appears to have 
expected only honors, only acclamation, admiration, and 
applause. He returned to accept a triumph; he did not 
dream that he should have to face a trial. 

The long years in India had served to confuse his per- 
ception of the conduct of affairs at home. He did not in 
the least appreciate the men with whom he had to deal. 
If he gauged pretty closely the malignity of Francis, he 
may have fancied that the malignity was not very likely 
to prove dangerous. But he wholly misunderstood the 
character of the other foes, as important as Francis was 
unimportant, who were ranged against him. He made the 
extraordinary mistake of despising Burke. 

Hastings had certain anxieties on his return to England. 
His first was caused by his disappointment at not finding 
his wife in London to greet him on his arrival, a disap- 


pointnicnt that was consoled two days later when, as ho 
was journeying post-haste to the country to join her, he 
met her on Maidenhead Bridge driving in to join him. His 
second was the pleasurable anxiety of negotiating for the 
jHirchase of Daylesford, the realization of his youthful 
dream. He was made a little anxious too, later on, by the 
delay in the awarding to him of those honors which he so 
confidently expected. But he does not seem to have been 
disturbed in any appreciable degree by the formidable 
preparations which were being made against him by Burke 
and Fox and the followers of Burke and Fox. 

It is just possible that those preparations might have 
come to little or nothing but for the folly of Major Scott. 
Major Scott was mad enough to try and force the hand 
of the enemies of Hastings by calling upon Burke and Fox 
to fix a day for the charges that they were understood to 
be prepared to bring against him. Fox immediately rose 
to assure Major Scott that the matter was not forgotten. 
Burke, with grave composure, added that a general did not 
take choice of time and place of battle from his adversaries. 
It has been suggested that but for Major Scott's ill-advised 
zeal the attack might never have come to a head. But the 
conclusion is one which it would be rash to draw. Burke 
was not the man to forego his long-cherished hope of bring- 
ing a criminal to justice. If he had been inclined to forego 
it, he w^as not the kind of man to be goaded into unwilling 
resumption of his purpose by the taunts of Major Scott. 
It may surely be assumed that the impeachment of Warren 
Hastings would have been made even if Major Scott had 
been as wise and discreet as he proved himself to be unwise 
and indiscreet. 

Even when the attack was formally begun, Hastings 
failed to grasp its gravity or guess the best mode of meeting 
it. He insisted upon being heard at the Bar of the House 
in his own defence. A man of rare oratorical abilit}^ 
gifted with special skill in the selection of his material 
and the adjustment of his arguments, might have done 
himself a good turn by such a decision. But Hastings was 
not so endowed, and he w^ould have done far better in 


following the example of Clive and of Rumbold. He com- 
mitted the one fault which the House of Commons never 
forgives, he wearied it. Such dramatic effect as he might 
have got out of his position as a proconsul arraigned be- 
fore a senate he spoiled by the length and tedium of his 
harangue. He took two days to read a long and wordy de- 
fence, two days which he considered all too short, and 
which the House of Commons found all too long. It 
yawned while Hastings prosed. Accustomed to an average 
of eloquence of which the art has long been lost, it found 
Hastings's paper insufferably wearisome. 

Although he was the target for the eloquence of Burke, 
of Fox, and of Sheridan, still Hastings's hopes were high, 
and they mounted higher when the Eohilla war charge was 
rejected by a large majority. But they were only raised 
so high to be dashed to earth again in the most unexpected 
manner. The friends of Hastings were convinced that he 
would have the unfailing support of Pitt in his defence. 
He was now to learn that he was mistaken. 

Hastings had one very zealous champion in the House 
of Commons. This was a young member, Sir James 
Bland-Burges. He rose not merely with the approval of 
Pitt, but actually at Pitt's instigation, to defend Warren 
Hastings on the question of the treatment of the Rajah 
of Benares. It is scarcely surprising that the House did 
not pay him any great attention. Having just come under 
" the spell of the enchanter," it would hardly have listened 
with attention to an old and well-known member, and 
Bland-Burges was a young and unknown man. He could 
not command a hearing, so, whispering to Pitt that he 
would leave the remainder of the defence to him, he sat 
do^vn, and the debate, on Pitt's suggestion, was adjourned. 

On the following day the young defender came to the 
House hot to hear Pitt deliver to an attentive senate that 
defence which he had striven unsuccessfully to make. He 
has recorded the astonishment, indignation, and despair 
when Pitt rose to make his declaration concerning the 
charge against Hastings. The minister in whom Hastings 
trusted to find an allv offered some cold condemnation of 


tlie intemperance of the attack, proffered some lukewarm 
praise to Hastings, and then announced that he would 
agree to the motion. To most of Pitt's supporters Pitf s 
action came as an unpleasant surprise; but to Bland- 
Burges, from his previous conversation with the minister, 
it seemed like an act of treason. There was little for 
Bland-Burges to do, but it is to his credit that he did that 
little. It required no small courage for a follower and a 
friend of Pitt to defy his authority in the House. Yet 
that is practically what Bland-Burges did. Paging with 
indignation at what he conceived to be the tergiversation 
of his leader and the treachery to his hero, Bland-Burges 
once again forced himself upon the attention of the House. 
The leaders on both sides being agreed, it was expected that 
the matter would be settled out of hand, and the Speaker 
had actually put the question and declared it carried when 
Bland-Burges leaped to his feet and challenged a division. 
He acted with the courage of his despair, but, as he says, 
few unpremeditated enterprises ever succeeded better than 
this one. " The question indeed was carried by a great 
majority, but those who were against it were almost en- 
tirely of those who till then had implicitly voted with the 
minister. This was not only mortifying to Mr. Pitt, but 
highly encouraging to Mr. Hastings and his steadfast 

Bland-Burges did not escape an early intimation of the 
disapproval of his chief. When the House broke up, Pitt 
said to him, with an austere look, " So, sir, you have 
thought proper to divide the House. I hope you are satis- 
fied.'' Bland-Burges answered that he was perfectly satis- 
fied. " Then you seem satisfied very easily," the minister 
retorted ; to which Bland-Burges replied, " Not exactly 
so, sir. I am satisfied with nothing that has passed this 
evening except the discovery I have made that there were 
still honest men present." "On that," Bland-Burges 
continues, " with a stern look and a stately air he left 

Bland-Burges won a reward for his courage which out- 
weighed the disapproval of Pitt. When he had thus vol- 


"unteered on behalf of AVarren Hastings he was so entirely 
a stranger to him that he did not even know him by sight. 
Xaturally enough, however, the arraigned man was de- 
sirous to become acquainted with the stranger who had 
stood by him when his own friends had abandoned him. 
He lost no time, therefore, in calling upon Bland-Burges 
to thank him for the part he had played. Bland-Burges 
says that the conversation was deeply interesting, but that 
he only made a note of one passage, in which he explained 
that, independently of his own conviction that the cause 
of Warren Hastings was just and honorable, he had been 
moved to take part in his defence by the positive instruc- 
tions of his father, who had died about two 3^ears pre- 
viously. Bland-Burges's father, attributing the preserva- 
tion of England^s power in India to Hastings, had enjoined 
his son, if ever an attack were made upon Hastings, to 
abstract himself from all personal and party considerations 
and to support him liberally and manfully. Whatever we 
may think of the conduct of Warren Hastings, it is a 
pleasure to find that those who thought him to be in the 
right stood up for their belief as honorably and as gal- 
lantly as Bland-Burges. It is not surprising that Warren 
Hastings was moved to tears. That day's interview was 
the beginning of a friendship that endured unbroken until 
the death of Warren Hastings. 

The reason which Pitt gave for his action on the 
Benares vote was simple enough. He said that, although 
the action of Hastings towards the Eajah was in itself 
justifiable, yet that the manner of the action was not 
justifiable. Chait Singh deserved to be fined, but not to 
be fined in an exorbitant and tyrannical manner. The ex- 
planation might very well be considered sufficient. A 
high-minded minister might feel bound to condemn the 
conduct of an official whom he admired, if that conduct 
had pushed a legal right to an illegal length. But Pitt's 
decision came with such a shock to the friends, and even 
to the enemies of Hastings, that public rumor immediate- 
ly set to work to find some other less simple and less honest 
reason for Pitt's action. One rumor ascribed it to an in- 


ierview with Dundas, in which Dundas had succeeded, 
after hours of argument, in inducing Pitt to throw War- 
ren Hastings over. Another suggested that Pitt was 
spurred by anger at a declaration of Thurlow's that he 
and the King between them would make Hastings a peer, 
whether the minister would or no. A third suggested that 
Pitt was jealous of the ro3^al favor to Mr. and Mrs. Has- 
tings; while a fourth asserted that Pitt deliberately sacri- 
ficed Hastings in order to afford the Opposition other 
quarry than himself. But there is no need to seek for 
any other motive than the motive which Pitt alleged. It 
was quite sufficient to compel an honorable man to give 
the vote that Pitt gave. 

Blow after blow fell upon Hastings. The terrible at- 
tacks of Burke were for a time eclipsed by the dazzling 
brilliancy of Sheridan's attack upon him in the famous 
Begum speech. Those who heard that speech speak of it 
with reverence and with passion as one of the masterpieces 
of the world. In the form in which it is preserved, or 
rather in which it has failed to be preserved for us, it 
is hard, if not impossible, to find merit calling for the 
rapture which it aroused in the minds of men familiar 
with magnificent oratory, and perfectly competent to 
judge. That it did arouse rapture is beyond doubt, and 
for the moment it was even more effective in injuring 
Hastings than the more profound but less flaming utter- 
ances of Burke. The testimony of Fox, the testimony of 
B3Ton, alike are offered in its unqualified praise. 

It was decided by the House of Commons, with the con- 
sent of Pitt, that Hastings should be impeached. One in- 
dignity Pitt spared him, one danger Pitt saved him from. 
Burke was, somewhat incomprehensibly, anxious that the 
name of Francis should be placed upon that Committee of 
Impeachment to which Burke had already been nominated 
as the first member by Pitt. But here Pitt was resolute. 
Francis was flagrantly hostile to Hastings, hostile with a 
personal as well as a public hatred, and Pitt could not 
tolerate the notion that he should find a place upon the 
Committee of Impeachment. Burke protested, and the 


very protest was characteristic of Burke's high-mindedness. 
For to Burke the whole business was a purely public busi- 
ness, in no sense connected with any private feelings, and 
it seemed to him as if the exclusion of any one of those 
who had been conspicuous in the arraignment of Hastings 
from a responsible place on the Committee of Impeach- 
ment on the ground of personal feeling was to cast some- 
thing like a slur upon the purity of motive of the men 
engaged in the attack. But Pitt was in the right, and the 
name of Francis was, by a large majorit}^, not suffered to 
appear upon the committee. 

In the May of 1787 Burke formally impeached Warren 
Hastings at the Bar of the House of Lords. Hastings was 
immediately taken into custody by the Sergeant-at-Arms, 
and was held to bail for £20,000, with two sureties for 
£10,000 each. The delay which was to be characteristic 
of the whole proceedings was evident from the first. 
Though Hastings was taken into custody in the May of 

1787, it was not until February 13 of the following year, 

1788, that the impeached man was brought to his trial in 
Vv'estminster Hall. 

Before the trial began, popular feeling was roused 
against Hastings more keenly by the action of the Court 
than by the action of Burke and of his colleagues. The 
Court was inclined to be even more than friendly to Has- 
tings and to his wife, and both Hastings and his wife, who 
were not in touch with English public opinion, took the 
unwise course of making the very most of the royal favor, 
and of displaying themselves as much as possible in the 
royal sunlight. The London public, always jealous of any 
Court favoritism, resented the patronage of Hastings, and 
while it was in this temper an event took place which 
served to heighten its resentment. The Nizam of the 
Deccan had sent a very magnificent diamond to the King 
as a present, and, being ignorant of what was going on in 
England, he chose Hastings, naturally enough, as the 
medium through which to convey his diamond to the King. 
Hastings, with the want of judgment which characterized 
him at this time, accepted a duty which, delicate at any 

282 A lllSTUliY OF TUE FOLK GEORGES. ch.lix. 

time, became under the conditions positively dangerous. 
He was present at the Levee at which the diamond was 
presented to the King. Immediately rumor seized upon 
the incident and distorted it. It was confidently asserted 
tliat Hastings was bribing the Sovereign with vast presents 
of precious stones to use his influence in his behalf. The 
solitary diamond became in the popular eye more numerous 
than the stones that Sinbad came upon in the enchanted 
valley. The print-shops teemed with caricatures, all giv- 
ing some highly colored exaggeration of the prevailing im- 
pression. Every possible pictorial device which could sug- 
gest to the passer-by that Hastings was buying the pro- 
tection of the King by fabulous gifts of diamonds was 
made public. In one Hastings was shown flinging quan- 
tities of precious stones into the open mouth of the King. 
In another he was represented as having bought the King 
bodily, crown and sceptre and all, with his precious 
stones, and as carrying him away in a wheelbarrow. So 
high did popular feeling run that the great diamond be- 
came the hero of a discussion in the House of Commons, 
when Major Scott was obliged to make a statement in his 
chief's behalf giving an accurate account of what had 
really occurred. 

The trial of Warren Hastings is one of the most re- 
markable examples of contrasts in human affairs that is 
to be found in the whole course of our history. It began 
under conditions of what may fairly be called national in- 
terest. It came to an end amid the apathy and indifference 
of the public. When it began, the Great Hall of West- 
minster was scarcely large enough to contain all those 
who longed to be present at the trial of the great proconsul. 
All the rank, the wealth, the genius, the wit, the beauty of 
England seemed to be gathered together in the building, 
which is said to be the oldest inhabited building in the 
world. When it ended, and long before it had ended, the 
attendance liad dwindled down to a mere handful of spec- 
tators, some two or three score of persons whose patience, 
whose interest, or whose curiosity had survived the in- 
difference with w^hich the rest of the world had come to 


regard the whole business. The spirit of genius and the 
spirit of dulness met in close encounter in that memorable 
arena, and it must be admitted that the spirit of dulness 
did on the whole prevail. There seemed a time when it 
was likely that the trial might go on forever. Men and 
women who came to the first hearing eager on the one side 
or the other, impassioned for Hastings or enthusiastic for 
Burke, died and were buried, and new men and women 
occupied themselves with other things, and still the trial 
dragged its slow length along. 

It may be unhesitatingly admitted that during the long 
course of the trial Warren Hastings bore himself with 
courage and with dignity. He was firmly convinced that 
he was a much-injured man, and if the justice of a man's 
cause were to be decided merely upon the demeanor of the 
defendant, Hastings would have been exonerated. He pro- 
fessed to be horrified, and he no doubt was horrified, by 
what he called " the atrocious calumnies of Mr. Burke and 
Mr. Fox." He carried himself as if they were indeed 
atrocious calumnies without any basis whatsoever. His 
attitude was that of the martyr supported by the serenity 
of the saint. He had lived so long in the East that he 
gained not a little of that Eastern fortitude which is the 
fortitude of fatalism. While the trial was progressing he 
told a dear friend that he found much consolation in a 
certain Oriental tale. The story was of an Indian king 
whose temper never knew a medium, and w^ho in pros- 
perity was hurried into extravagance by his joy, while in 
adversity grief overwhelmed him with despondency. Hav- 
ing suffered many inconveniences through this weakness, 
he besought his courtiers to devise a sentence, short enough 
to be engraved upon a ring, which should suggest a remedy 
for his evil. Many phrases w^ere proposed; none were 
found acceptable until his daughter offered him an 
emerald on which were graven two Arabic words, the lit- 
eral translation of which is, " This, too, will pass." The 
King em.braced his daughter and declared that she was 
wiser than all his wise men. " ]^ow," said Hastings, 
•' when I appear at the Bar and hear the violent invectives 


of my enemies, I arm myself with patience. I reflect upon 
the mutability of human life, and I say to myself, ^ This, 
too, will pass/ " 

It did pass, but it took its long time to pass. The trial 
lasted seven years. Begun in the February of 1788, it 
ended in the April of 1795. In that long space of time 
men might well be excused if they had grown weary of it. 
Had its protracted course been even pursued in colorless, 
eventless times it would have been hard to preserve the 
public interest in the trial so terribly drawn out. But it 
was one of the curious fortunes of the trial to embrace 
within its compass some of the most thrilling and momen- 
tous years that have been recorded in the history of man- 
kind. In the year after the trial began the Bastille fell. 
In the year before the trial closed the Reign of Terror 
came to an end with the deaths of Eobespierre and St. 
Just. The interval had seen the whole progress of the 
French Revolution, had applauded the constitutional strug- 
gle for liberty, had shuddered at the September massacres, 
had seen the disciplined armies of the great European 
Powers reel back dismayed before the ragged regiments 
of the Republic, had seen France answer Europe with the 
head of a king, with the head of a queen, had observed 
how the Revolution, like Saturn, devoured its own chil- 
dren, had witnessed with fear as well as with fury the 
apotheosis of the guillotine. While the events in France 
were shaking every European State, including England, 
to its centre, it was hard for the public mind to keep itself 
fixed with any degree of intentness upon the trial of 
Warren Hastings. 

The events of that interval had affected too, profoundly, 
the chief actor in the trial. Burke entered upon the im- 
peachment of Warren Hastings at the zenith of his great 
career, at the moment of his greatest glory. The rise and 
progress of the French evolution exercised a profound, even 
a disastrous, efl'ect upon him. For once his fine intellect 
failed to discriminate between the essentials and the non- 
essentials of a great question. His horror at the atrocities 
of the Revolution blinded him to all the advantages that 


the success of the Revolution brought with it. The whole 
framework of that great event was to him so hideously 
stained with the blood of the Queen, with the blood of so 
many innocent persons, that he could see nothing but the 
blood, and the influence of this is to be noticed in Burke's 
final speech with its almost confident expectation that 
the guillotine would sooner or later be established in Eng- 
land. Burke's frenzy against the French Revolution made 
it appear to many as if his reasoned and careful indict- 
ment of the erring Governor-General might after all be 
only mere frenzy too. 

Such as it was, and under such conditions, the trial did 
come to an end at last, after such alternations of brilliant 
speeches and dull speeches as the world had never wit- 
nessed before. Sheridan again added to his fame by a 
speech of which, unhappily, we are able to form no very 
clear idea. Law defended Hastings in detailing the whole 
of the history of Hindostan. Hastings again and again 
appealed piteously and pathetically that the trial might be 
brought somehow or other to an end. He was growing 
old, he had been for years a nominal prisoner, he was very 
anxious that the terrible strain of waiting upon the slow 
proceedings of the tribunal should be relieved. At last 
the end came after weary years of controversy, in which 
Hastings had been loaded with more contumely and lauded 
with more extravagance than it were possible to conceive 
liim good enough or bad enough to deserve. Finally, in 
the April of 1795, Warren Hastings was acquitted by a 
large majority on every one of the sixteen counts against 
him that were put to the vote. Burke could not conceal his 
chagrin at this unexpected result. He had expected, he 
declared afterwards, that the corruption of the age would 
enable Hastings to escape on some of the counts, but he 
was not prepared for the total acquittal. It is probable 
that Hastings himself was not prepared for it, but the re- 
lief it afforded him was tempered by the grave financial 
ditficulties into which he found himself plunged. The 
conduct of that long defence had well-nigh exhausted all 
his available resources. After a vain appeal to Pitt to 


indemnify him for his legal expenses, an arrangement was 
come to between the Government and the Company by 
which Hastings was enabled to live at first in straitened, 
afterwards in moderate, circumstances for the rest of his 

It can scarcely be questioned but that Burke was in some 
degree responsible for the result of the trial. His burning 
sense of injustice, his passionate righteousness, and the 
perfervid strength of his convictions betrayed him into 
an intemperance of language that inevitably caused a re- 
action of sympathy in favor of the man so violently as- 
sailed. It is impossible to read without regret the actual 
ferocity of the epithets that Burke hurled against Warren 
Hastings. In this he was followed, even exceeded, by 
Sheridan; but the utterances of Sheridan, while they en- 
raptured their hearers by their brilliancy, did not carry 
with them the weight that attached to the utterances of 
Burke. Burke's case was too strong to need an over- 
charged form of expression. The plain statement of the 
misdeeds of Warren Hastings was far more telling as an 
indictment thnn the abuse with which Burke unhappily 
was tempted to overload his case. Those who were amazed 
and sickened, with Macaulay, to think that in that age 
any one could be found capable of calling the greatest of 
living public men, *' that reptile Mr. Burke,'' must reluc- 
tantly be compelled to admit that Burke set his enemies a 
bad example by his own unlicensed use of opprobrium. In 
justifying, for instance, the application to Warren Has- 
tings of Coke's savage description of Raleigh as a " spider 
of hell," Burke allowed his fierce indignation to get the 
better of his tongue, to the detriment of his own object, 
the bringing of an offender to justice. Miss Burney in her 
memoirs affords a remarkable instance of the injury which 
Burke did to his own object by the exuberance of his anger. 
She tells us how, as she listened to Burke's arraignment 
of Hastings, and went over the catalogue of his offences, 
she felt her sympathy for Hastings slowly disappear, but 
that as Burke increased in the furv of his assault, and 
passed from accusation to invective, the convincing effect 


of his oratory withered, and the effect which he had so care- 
fully created he himself contrived to destroy. 

In spite of defects which in some degree brought their 
own punishment with them, Burke's speeches against War- 
ren Hastings must ever remain among the highest ex- 
amples of human eloquence employed in the service of the 
right. The gifts of the statesman, the philosopher, the 
orator, the great man of letters, are all allied in those 
marvellous pages which first taught Englishmen how 
closely their national honor as well as their national pros- 
perity was involved in the administration of justice in 
India. If Burke failed to convict Warren Hastings, he 
succeeded in convicting the system which made such mis- 
demeanors as Warren Hastings's possible. We owe to 
Burke a new India. What had been but the appanage of 
a corrupt and corrupting Company he practically made 
forever a part of the glory and the grandeur of the British 

Abuse and invective were not confined to Burke nor to 
the side which Burke represented. Warren Hastings, or 
those who acted for Warren Hastings, employed every 
means in their power to blacken the characters of their 
opponents and to hold them up to public ridicule and to 
public detestation. The times were not gentle times for 
men engaged in political warfare, and the companions of 
Hastings employed all the arts that the times placed at 
their disposal. Burke and Sheridan, and those who acted 
with Burke and Sheridan, were savage enough in the trib- 
une, but they did not employ the extra-tribunal methods 
by which their enemy retaliated upon them. 

Hastings is scarcely to be blamed, considering duly the 
temper of his age, for doing everything that party warfare 
permitted against his opponents. He was fighting as for 
his life; he was fighting for what was far dearer to him 
than life — for life, indeed, he had ever shown a most 
soldierly disregard ; he was fighting for an honorable name, 
for the reward of a lifetime devoted to the interests of his 
countrv, as he understood those interests; he was fighting 
for fame as against infamy, and he fought hard and he 

288 A niSTORV OF THK FOUR GEORGES. ch. lix. 

fought after the fashion of tlie time in which he lived. 
The newspaper, the pamphlet, the lampoon, the carricature. 
the acidulated satire, the envenomed epigram, all were 
used, and used with success, against the promoters of the 

The caricatures were not all on one side, but the most 
numerous and the most effective were in favor of the im- 
peached statesman. If the adversaries of Hastings natu- 
rally seized upon the opportunity of a classical effect by 
presenting Burke and Hastings in the character of Cicero 
and Verres, the friends of Verres replied by the pencil of 
Gillray, representing Hastings as the savior of India de- 
fending himself heroically against assassins with the faces 
of Burke and of Fox. As the interest in the trial flagged 
the caricatures grew fewer and fewer, to revive a little at 
the close of the case. The popular view of the trial was 
then represented fairly enough by a large print called 
" The Last Scene of the ^Tanager's Farce," in which Has- 
tings w^as represented as rising in glory from the clouds of 
calumny, while Burke and Fox are represented witnessing 
with despair the failure of their protracted farce, and the 
crafty face of Philip Francis peeped from behind a scene 
where he was supposed to be playing the part of the 
prompter — " no character in the farce, but very useful 
behind the scenes," a description which sums up smartly 
enough the part that Philip Francis played in the whole 
transaction from first to last. 

The eve of Hastings's life was as peaceful as its noon 
and day had been stormy. The proconsul became a coun- 
try squire; the ruler of an empire, the autocrat of kings, 
soothed his old age very much after the fashion of Dio- 
cletian and of Candide, in the planting of cabbages. For 
three-and-twenty years he dwelt at Daylesford, happy in 
his wife, happy in his friends, happy in his health, in his 
rustic tastes, in his simple pleasures, in his tranquil occu- 
pation. He and his wife often visited London, but Has- 
tings seems to have been always happiest in the country, 
and he gradually declined into extreme old age with all 
the grace and dignity of a Roman gentleman, loved by his 


friends, dearl}^ loved by those who were young. Once in 
those long quiet years, after the death of Pitt, Hastings, 
to please his wife, pleaded for public reparation of the 
wrong which he believed had been done him. Grenville 
professed every willingness to grant him a peerage, but 
refused to entertain the idea of inducing the Commons to 
reverse their former judgment. On those terms Hastings 
declined the peerage. The nearest approach to anything 
like public consolation for his sorrows came to him in 1813, 
when, at the age of eighty, he came once more to the Bar 
of the House of Commons, this time to give evidence on the 
question of renewing the Charter of the East India Com- 
pany. By both Houses, Commons and Lords alike, the 
old man was greeted with the greatest enthusiasm, saluted 
with rapturous applause on his arrival, with reverential 
salutations on his departure. In 1818 the health which 
he had preserved so well till then broke, and he died after 
some severe suffering on August 22 in that year, and was 
laid in the earth that he had alw^ays loved so well. 

One of the latest acts of his life was to appeal to the 
Court of Directors to make some provision for his wife, 
by extending to her the annuity that had been accorded to 
him. They gave, says his most devoted biographer, no 
more heed to his dying entreaties than they would have 
given to the whine of a self -convicted beggar. Yet surely 
Hastings had deserved well of the East India Company. 
His faults had been committed in their service and had 
given them, not himself, wealth and power. But England 
is not always grateful to her servants. It is not wonder- 
ful, says Sir Alfred Lyall, that Hastings's application 
failed entirely, " remembering that even Lord Xelson's 
last testamentary appeal on behalf of a woman — ^ the 
only favor I ask of my King and my country at the mo- 
ment when I am going to fight their battle ' — had been 
rejected and utterly disregarded." Mrs. Hastings sur- 
vived her husband for some years, and was over ninety 
years of age w^hen she died. 

VOL. III. — 10 




The establishment of the American republic meant 
something more for England than the loss of her fairest 
colonies, and meant much more for Europe than the estab- 
lishment of a new form of government in the New World. 
While the United States were acclaiming Washington as 
their first President and rejoicing over the excellence of 
their carefully framed Constitution, the principles which 
had elected the one and had created the other were work- 
ing elsewhere to unexpected and mighty issues. French 
gentlemen of rank and fortune, fired by a philosophic 
admiration for lilierty, had fought and fought well for the 
American colonists, ^\'hen the revolt had become a revolu- 
tion, and the revolution a triumph, the French gentlemen 
went back to France with their hearts full of love and 
their lips loud in praise for the young republic and its 
simple, splendid citizens. The doctrines of liberty and 
equality, which had been so dear to the Philosophers and 
the Encyclopedists, were now being practically applied 
across the Atlantic, and the growth of their success was 
watched by the eager e3^es of the wisest and the unwisest 
thinkers in France. Within five years from the time when 
the American army was disbanded French political philos- 
ophy found itself making astonishing strides towards the 
realization of its cherished ideals. It had long felt the 
need of some change in the system of government that had 
prevailed in France, but its desires had seemed dim as 
dreams until the success of a handful of rebellious colo- 
nists in a distant country had made the spirit of democ- 
racy an immediate force in the life and the thought of 
the world. Undoubtedlv the condition of France was bad. 


The feudal system, or what was left of the feudal system, 
worn out, degraded, and corrupt, was rapidly reducing 
France to financial, physical, and political ruin. It is no 
part of the business of this history to dwell upon the con- 
ditions prevailing in France towards the close of the 
eighteenth century, conditions which prevailed in varying 
degree over the most part of Europe. Great French finan- 
ciers like Turgot, great French thinkers like Voltaire and 
Rousseau and the company of the " Encyclopaedia," had 
been keenly conscious of the corroding evils in the whole 
system of French political and social life, and had labored 
directly and indirectly to diminish them. Keen-eyed ob- 
servers from abroad, men of the world like Chesterfield, 
philosophers like xVrthur Young, had at different epochs 
observed the s3'mptoms of social disease and prognosticated 
the nature of its progress. The France of that day has 
been likened to a pyramid with the sovereign for its apex, 
with the nobility, a remnant of antique feudalism, for its 
next tier, with the wealthv and influential Church for the 
next, and below these the vast unrecognized bulk of the 
pyramid, the unprivileged masses who were the people of 
France. In the hands of the few who had the happiness 
to be " born," or who otherwise belonged to the privileged 
orders, lay all the power, all the authority which for the 
most part they misused or abused. It has been said with 
truth that the man who did not belong to the privileged 
orders had scarcely any more influence upon the laws 
which bound him and which ground him than if he lived 
in Mars or Saturn instead of in Picardy or Franche Comte. 
Such a system of government, which could only have been 
found tolerable if it had been swaved bv a brotherhood of 
saints and sages, was, as a matter of fact, worked in the 
worst manner possible and for the worst purposes. The 
conditions under which the vast mass of the French people 
lived, struggled, suffered, and died were so cruel that it is 
hard indeed to believe them compatible with the high de- 
gree of civilization which, in other respects, France had 
reached. A merciless and most comprehensive process of 
taxation squeezed life and hope out of the French nation 


for the benefit of a nobility whose corruption was onl}' 
rival lod by its worthlessness and an ecclesiasticism that 
had forgotten the Sermon on the Mount and the way to 

But if the condition of France was bad it contained the 
germs of improvement. A greater freedom of thought, a 
greater freedom of speech were beginning, very gradu- 
ally, to assert themselves and to make their influence felt. 
Philosophical speculation on sorrow and suffering turned 
the minds of men to thoughts of how that sorrow might 
be stanched and that suffering abated. The slowly ris- 
ing tide of thought was blown into an angry sea by a wind 
from the west, and in a little while a scarcely suspected 
storm became a hurricane that swept into a common ruin 
everything that opposed its fury. England had long been 
looked up to by French reformers as the pattern for the 
changes they desired to see brought about in their own 
countr}^ The moderation and equality of its laws, as com- 
pared with those of France, the facilities of utterance af- 
forded to the popular voice, made it seem a veritable 
Utopia to eyes dimmed by the mist of French feudality. 
But now another and a greater England had arisen in the 
New World. Across the Atlantic the descendants of the 
men who had overthrown a dynasty and beheaded a king 
had shaken themselves free from forms of oppression that 
seemed mild indeed to Frenchmen, and had proclaimed 
themselves the champions of theories of social liberty and 
political freedom which had been dreamed of by French 
philosophers but had never yet been put into practice. Re- 
bellious America had fired the enthusiasm of gallant 
French adventurers; successful, independent America ani- 
mated the hopes and spurred the imaginations of those 
whose eyes turned in longing admiration from the season- 
ed constitution of monarchical England to the as yet green 
constitution of republican America. 

Those Englishmen whose tastes and sympathies induced 
them to keep in touch with political opinion in France, 
and to watch with interest the spread of ideas which they 
themselves held dear, noted with approval many remark- 


able signs of activity across the Channel. While the strain 
upon the false financial system of France had become so 
great that the attempt to stop the hole in the money chest 
broke the spirit of finance minister after finance minister, 
a feeling in favor of some change in the system that made 
such catastrophes possible seemed to be on the increase in 
educated and even in aristocratic circles. Many English- 
men of that day knew France, or at least Paris, fairly well. 
If Pitt had paid the French capital but a single visit, Fox 
was intimately acquainted with it, and Walpole was almost 
as familiar with a superficial Paris as he was with a super- 
ficial London. Dr. Johnson, not very long before the time 
of which we write, had visited Paris with his friends the 
Thrales, and had made the acquaintance of a brewer named 
Santerre. Arthur Young travelled in France as he trav- 
elled in England and in Ireland. On the other hand, 
Frenchmen who were soon to be conspicuous advocates of 
change were not unknown on the English side of the Chan- 
nel. Mirabeau was known in London — not too favorably — 
and the cousin of the French King, the Duke de Chartres, 
afterwards Duke of Orleans, had moved in London society 
and was to move there again. So when educated English- 
men heard that Lafayette had demanded the revival of 
the States-General, unused and almost forgotten these 
two centuries, they knew that the friend of Washington 
was not likely to ask for impossibilities. When the Duke 
of Orleans set himself openly in opposition to the King, 
his cousin, they recognized a significance in the act, and 
when Mirabeau asserted himself as the champion of a 
growing agitation in favor of an oppressed and unrepre- 
sented people they remembered the big, vehement man 
who had passed so much of his life in prisons and had 
played the spy upon the Prussian Court. Gradually pre- 
pared for some change in the administrative system of 
France, they were not prepared for the rapid succession of 
changes that followed upon the formal convocation of the 
States-General in the spring of 1789. 

The States-General was the nearest approach to a repre- 
sentative parliamentary system that was known to France. 


But the States-General had not been summoned to aid the 
deliberations of a French monarch in the course of many 
reigns. France had lived under what was practically a 
despotism untempered by an expression of organized public 
opinion for several generations. It was so long since the 
States-General had been convoked that the very forms and 
ceremonies incidental to or essential to its convocation had 
passed out of living memory, and had to be painfully ascer- 
tained by much groping after authority and precedent. In 
the end, however, authority and precedent were ascertained, 
and the States-General_, composed of representatives of the 
three estates of the realm — the Church, the Nobility, and 
the People — met with much ceremony at Versailles. They 
were called together for the ostensible purpose of dealing 
with the financial difficulties that threatened to make the 
country bankrupt. But it was soon clear that they, or at 
least the majority of their members, intended to accom- 
plish much more than that. The news that travelled slowly 
in those days from the capital of France to the capital of 
England grew to be interesting and important with an 
interest and an importance that were not to cease in steady 
activity for more than a quarter of a century. Event fol- 
lowed event with startling rapidity. The members of the 
Third Estate severed themselves from the Church and the 
Nobility, met in the Tennis Court in Versailles, and de- 
clared themselves a National Assembly. The people of 
Paris, profoundly agitated, and fearing that the King in- 
tended to suppress the insurgent National Assembly by 
force, broke out into riots, which culminated in an attack 
upon the famous and detested prison in the Faubourg St. 
Antoine, the Bastille. The Bastille had not for many 
years been a serious instrument of oppression, but its 
record was an evil record, and it represented in the eyes 
of the people of Paris all that was most detested and most 
detestable in the old order. The Bastille was captured; 
its few prisoners were borne in triumph through the 
streets, while its commander, De Launay, was decapitated 
and his head carried about on the point of a pike. 

If the King of France had been a different man from 


Louis the Sixteenth he might have faced the rising storm 
with some hope of success. But he could do nothing, would 
do nothing. His advisers, his intimates, his kinsmen, his 
captains, despairing at his vacillation and fearing that 
they would be abandoned to the fury of insurgent Paris, 
fled for their lives from a country that seemed to them as 
if possessed by a devil. The country was possessed, pos- 
sessed by the spirit of revolution. After ages of injustice 
a chance had come for the oppressed, and the oppressed 
had seized their chance and misused it, as the long op- 
pressed always misuse sudden power. Eebellious Paris 
marched upon Versailles, camped outside the King's 
palace; broke in the night time into the King's palace, 
slaying and seeking to slay. The Eoyal Family were res- 
cued, if rescue it can be called, by the interposition of 
Lafayette. They were carried in triumph to Paris. Still 
nominally sovereign, they were practically prisoners in 
their palace of the Tuileries. Europe looked on in aston- 
ishment at the unexpected outbreak. In England at first 
the leaders of liberal opinion applauded what they be- 
lieved to be the dawn of a new and glorious era of political 
freedom. Fox hailed in a rapture of exultation the fall of 
the Bastille. The Duke of Dorset, the English ambassador 
to France, saluted the accomplishment of the greatest revo- 
lution recorded by history. Eager young men, nameless 
then but yet to be famous, apostrophised the dawn of 
liberty. " Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be 
young was very heaven," Wordsworth wrote, with a wist- 
ful regret, fifteen years after the Bastille had fallen, re- 
calling with a kind of tragic irony the emotions of that 
hour and contrasting them with his thoughts on the events 
that had followed through half a generation. All over 
England strenuous politicians, catching the contagion of 
excitement from excited France, formulated their sym- 
pathy with the Revolution in ardent, eloquent addresses, 
formed themselves into clubs to propagate the principles 
that were making France free and illustrious, and sent 
delegates speeding across the Channel to convey to a 
confident, constitution-making National Assembly the as- 


siirancc that the best hearts and the wisest brains in Eng- 
land pulsed and moved in unison with their desires. 

Such assurances were inaccurate and misleading. There 
was one man in England the goodness of whose heart, the 
wisdom of whose brain could scarcely be questioned, whose 
censure in England, and not in England alone, was more 
serious than the applause of a whole theatre of others. 
At a moment when all who represented liberal thought 
in politics, all who some ten years earlier had sympathized 
with the American colonists, were showing a like sympathy 
for the insurgent people of France, Edmund Burke made 
himself conspicuous by the vehemence and the vigor of his 
opposition to a movement which commanded the admira- 
tion of his most intimate friends and closest political 
allies. While the Revolution was still almost in its in- 
fancy, while Sheridan and Fox vied with each other in the 
warmth of their applause, Burke set himself to preach a 
crusade against the Eevolution with all the unrestrained 
ardor of his uncompromising nature. No words of Fox 
or of Sheridan, no resolution of clubs, no delegated en- 
thusiasm had anything like the same effect in aiding, that 
Burke's famous pamphlet had in injuring the French 
Revolution, in the eyes not merely of the mass of the Eng- 
lish people, but in the eyes of a very great number of people 
in the countries of Europe. People whose business it was 
to be king, to use the famous phrase of a then reigning 
prince, readily welcomed Burke's " Reflexions on the 
French Revolution," which was soon disseminated all over 
the Continent in a French translation. Naturally enough 
it appealed to the Emperor of Germany, to the Empress 
Catherine of Russia, to the French princes sheltering in 
Coblentz and boasting of the revenge they would take on 
the Revolution when the King should enjoy his own again. 
Naturally enough it appealed to George the Third as a 
book which every gentleman ought to read. Kings and 
princes everywhere, who felt that at any moment their 
own thrones might begin to rock unsteadily beneath them, 
inevitably applauded the unexpected assistance of the 
greatest orator and thinker of his age. 


Such applause alone would not have made Burke's 
pamphlet the formidal)le weapon that it proved to be in 
the hands of reaction^ or have brought about the grave re- 
sults that may be directly attributed to Burke's pen. The 
words of Burke created, the breath of Burke fanned, a 
public opinion in England and abroad that was in direct 
antagonism to everything that was meant by those who 
formed and who guided or were driven by the Eevolution. 
It would be hard to find a parallel in history for the influ- 
ence thus exerted by a single man against so great a force. 
All the conservatism of Burke's nature — the conservatism 
that led him to regard the English Parliamentary system 
of his day as well-nigh ideally perfect, and that prompted 
him to resist so steadily and so successfully Pitt's proposals 
of Parliamentary reform — concentrated itself against what 
he believed to be the spirit of anarchy newly arisen in 
France. The Revolution was but a year old, and was as 
yet unstained by the worst excesses of the Terror, when 
Burke launched his bolt, shouted his battle-cry, and ani- 
mated Europe to arms. It must be admitted that many 
of the evils which Burke prophesied in his review of the 
nascent revolution were the stigmas of its prime. From 
the premises he beheld he drew clear and definite conclu- 
sions, which were only too unhappily verified as the tide 
of revolution flowed. But it must also be remembered 
that Burke was himself in no small measure the cause of 
the realization of his own dark and tragic prognostica- 
tions. Burke's arguments, Burke's eloquence, Burke's 
splendid ability were among the most potent factors in 
animating the hopes of the refugee princes, of inspiriting 
their allies, and of forming that ill-advised and disastrous 
coalition of the Powers against France which Danton 
answered with the head of a king. It was the genius of 
Burke that stemmed the sympathy between England and 
a nation struggling to be free; it was the genius of Burke 
that fostered the spirit of animosity to France which be- 
gan with the march upon Paris, and which ended after 
the disastrous defeats of the invaders, the deaths of the 
King and Queen, and all the agonies of the Terror, in 


creatin^]^ for En^lnnd, in common with Europe at large, 
the most formi(lal)le enemy that she had ever known. 

In spite of Burke and Burke's melancholy vaticinations 
the course of tlie devolution in France seemed at first to 
most liberal-minded Englishmen to move along reasonable 
lines and to confine itself within the bounds of modera- 
tion. Tlie excesses and outrages that followed immedi- 
ately upon the first upheaval, the murders of Foulon and 
Berthier in Paris, the peasant war upon the castles, were 
regarded as the unavoidable, deplorable ebullitions of a 
long dormant force which, under the guidance of capable 
and honorable men, would be directed henceforward solely 
to the establishment of a stable and popular system of 
government. The men who were, or who seemed to be, 
at the head of affairs in France had names that for the 
most part commended themselves to such Englishmen as 
liad anything more than a superficial knowledge of the 
country. The fame of Lafayette, the hero of the American 
war, seemed to answer for the conduct of the armv. In 
Bailly, the astronomer whom unhappy chance had made 
Mayor of Paris, constitutionalism recognized a man after 
its own heart. The majority of the members of the Na- 
tional Assembly seemed to be gloriously occupied in 
evolving out of the chaos of the old order a new and 
entirely admirable framework of laws modelled boldly 
after the English pattern. IMost English observers 
thought, in opposition to Burke, what the majority of the 
members of the National Assembly themselves thought, 
that the Eevolution was an accomplished fact, a concluded 
page of history, brought about not indeed bloodlessly, but 
still, on the whole, with comparatively slight shedding of 
blood, considering the difficulty and the greatness of the 
accomplished thing. The practical imprisonment of the 
King and Queen within the walls of Paris, within the 
walls of the Tuileries, seemed no great hardship in the 
eyes of the Englishmen who sympathized Avith the aims 
of those of the French revolutionaries with whom they 
were acquainted. The French King himself seemed to be 
reconciled to his lot, to have joined himself frankly and 


freely enough to the party of progress within his do- 
minions, and to be as loyally eager to accept the new con- 
stitution which the National Assembly was busy framing 
as the most ardent patriot among its members. Even the 
flight of the Royal Family, the attempted flight that be- 
gan with such laborious pomp at Paris to end in such 
pitiful disaster at Varennes, the flight that condemned 
the King and Queen to a restraint far more rigorous than 
before, did not greatly disturb British equanimity. 

To the mind of Burke, however, his prophecies were al- 
ready justifying themselves. He could see nothing in the 
Revolution but its errors, and he hailed the coalition of 
Europe against France as a league of light against the 
powers of darkness. He broke away furiously from his 
friends and allies of so many great political battles. He 
could not understand, he could not bear to realize that men 
who had struggled with him to champion the rights of the 
American colonists, and to punish the oifences of Warren 
Hastings, should now be either avowed sympathizers with 
or indifferent spectators of the events that were passing in 
France. He had loved Charles Fox greatly ever since Fox 
had shaken off the traditions of Toryism and become the 
most conspicuous champion of liberal ideas in England. 
But he could not and would not forgive him for his atti- 
tude towards the French Revolution and the French Revo- 
lutionists. Burke saw nothing but evil in, thought nothing 
but evil could come of, what was happening in France, 
and he feared disasters for his own countrv if it became 
impregnated with the poison of the revolutionary doctrine. 
That Fox should in any way advocate that doctrine made 
him in Burke's eyes an enemy of England, and not merely 
of England but of the whole human race. There was no 
middle way with Burke. Those who were not with him 
were against him, not merely as a politician, but as a man. 
To the day of his death, in 1797, he hated the Revolution 
and denied his friendship to those who expressed any- 
thing less than execration for its principles and its makers. 
Although it is always easy to exaggerate the influence that 
any single spirit may have upon a movement embracing 


many nationalities and many differont orders of mind, 
it would be diflieult to overestimate the effect of Burke's 
words and Burke's actions in animating the coalition of 
monarchical Europe against insurgent France. And upon 
a responsil)ility for the intervention of other States in the 
affairs of France depends also a proportionate degree of 
responsibility for the results of that intervention. Burke 
was to see all the horrors he had so eloquently anticipated 
realized as the direct consequence of the invasion of France 
by the allied armies. The French people in the very hour 
in which they believed their cherished revolution to be an 
accomplished fact saw it menaced by the formidable league 
which i^roposed to bring the King's brothers back in tri- 
umph from Coblentz, and which threatened, in the ex- 
traordinary language to which Brunswick put his name, 
to blot Paris from the map of Europe if any injury were 
done to the King, who had already formally accepted the 
constitution that the Revolution had created. Paris went 
mad with fear and rage. The September massacres, the 
attacks upon the Tuileries, the proclaimed republicanism 
of the Convention, the rise of the men of the Mountain, 
^larat, Danton, and Robespierre, the execution first of the 
King and then of the Queen, the dominion of the guillo- 
tine and the Reign of Terror, were the direct results of a 
coalition whose only excuse would have been its complete 
success. The coalition proved to be an absolute failure. 
To the cry that the country was in danger ragged legions 
of desperate men rushed to the frontiers, and, to the as- 
tonishment of the world, proved more than a match for 
the armies that were sent against them. 

Pitt was not himself eager to see England dragged into 
the European quarrel with France. But it was not easy 
for a minister who loved popularity, and who very sin- 
cerely believed his presence at the head of affairs to be 
essential to the welfare of the State, to avoid being in- 
volved in the controversy. The result of the unsuccessful 
coalition had been to increase the crimes that marked the 
course of the French Revolution, and seemingly to justify 
the fierce indignation of Burke. The country that had 


been profoundly impressed by Burke's eloquence was pro- 
foundly shocked by the horrors that lost nothing of their 
magnitude in the reports that crossed the Channel. The 
country was flooded with fugitives from France, emigrants 
who presented in themselves moving pictures of the suf- 
ferings of those who were opposed to the Revolution, and 
who were not slow to express their sense of the ruin that 
had fallen upon their country. King George's native 
shrewdness and native narrowness of mind had made him 
from the first an active opponent of the Eevolution. He 
declared that if a stop were not put to French principles 
there would not be a king left in Europe in a few years. 
To him, whose business above all things it had been to be 
king, the prospect was unlovely and alarming. The fear 
that he felt for his office was shared in varying degree by 
all those who felt that thev would have much to lose if 
the example set by France came to be followed in England. 
The Church and the aristocracy, with all wealthy and vest- 
ed interests, were naturally ranked to resist by all means 
the spread of the new doctrines. There were a few noble- 
men who, like Lord Stanhope and Lord Lauderdale, pro- 
fessed themselves to be champions of the French Revolu- 
tion ; there were some statesmen among the Opposition who 
were either s}Tnpathizers with the Revolution or asserters 
of the doctrine that it was no part of England's duty to 
interfere with the way in which another nation chose to 
govern herself. But the strength of public opinion was 
against these, as it was against the minister who was as 
eager as any Englishman living to remain on good terms 
with France. 

Pitt from the first had looked with a favorable e3'e upon 
the changes that were taking place across the Channel. 
To maintain a friendship with France was a radical part 
of his policy. Friendship with France was essential 
in his mind in order to combat the aggrandizement of Rus- 
sia and Prussia, and friendship with France seemed more 
possible under an enlightened constitution than under a 
despotic king. While Burke, who could only make the 
House of Commons smile and sneer by his denunciations 


of Jaf'ol)in intrifxnos and his disjilay of Jacobin daggers, 
was playing on tlio heart-strings of Enghmd and reviving 
all the old hostility to France, Pitt pursued as long as he 
was allowed to pursue it a policy of absolute neutrality. 
But he was not long allowed to pursue that policy, al- 
though he reaped some reward for it in a proof that the 
French Government appreciated his intentions and shared 
his desire for friendship. An English settlement at Noot- 
ka Sound, in Vancouver Island, had been interfered with 
by Spain. England was ready to assert her rights in 
arms. Spain appealed to France for her aid by the terms 
of the Family Compact. The French King and the French 
j\[inisters were willing enough to engage in a war with 
England, in the hope of diverting the course and weaken- 
ing the power of the Kevolution. But the National As- 
sembly, after a long and angry struggle, took away from 
the King the old right to declare war, save with the consent 
of the National Assemblv, which consent the National 
Assembly, in that particular crisis, was decided not to give. 
Pitt was delighted at this proof of the friendly spirit of 
the French people and the advantage of his principle of 
neutrality. But he was not able to act upon that prin- 
ciple. The forces brought against him w^re too many 
and too potent for him to resist. From the King on the 
throne to the mob in the streets, who sacked the houses of 
citizens known to be in S3''mpathy with the Revolution, the 
English people as a whole were against him. The people 
who sympathized with the Kevolution, who made speeches 
for it in Westminster and formed Constitutional Clubs 
which framed addresses of friendship to France, were but a 
handful in the House of Commons, were but a handful 
in the whole country. Their existence dazzled and deluded 
the French Revolutionists into the belief that the heart of 
England was with them at a time w^hen every feeling of 
self-interest and of sentiment in England was against 
them. Pitt clung desperately to peace. He thought, what 
the Opposition thought then and for long years later, that 
it was wisest to leave France to settle her internal affairs 
and her form of government in her own way. When Eng- 


land no longer had an ambassador at the French capital 
Pitt adhered doggedly, tenaciously, to a peace policy; per- 
sisted in preserving the neutrality of Holland; was ready, 
were it only possible, only permitted to him, to recognize 
the new Eepublic. But even if the execution of Louis 
the Sixteenth had not roused irresistible indignation in 
England the action of the new Republic made the pro- 
longation of peace an impossibility. When, in the winter 
of 1792, the Convention made the famous offer of its aid 
in arms to all peoples eager to be free, it must have been 
plain to Pitt that, with France in that temper and England 
tempest-tossed between hatred of the Revolution and fear 
lest its theories were being insidiously fostered in her own 
confines, the preservation of peace was a dream. The 
dream was finally dissipated when France made ready to 
attack Holland and, rejecting all possible negotiations, de- 
clared war in the earlv davs of 1793. 

At first the war went ill with France, and if the German 
Powers had co-operated earnestly and honestly with Eng- 
land it is at least within the limits of possibility that Paris 
might have been occupied and the Revolution for the time 
retarded. France seemed to be circled by foes; her en- 
emies abroad were aided bv civil war at home. La Ven- 
dee was in Royalist revolt; Marseilles and Lyons rose 
aa^ainst the tyranny of Paris; Toulon, turning against the 
Republic, welcomed an English fleet. For a moment the 
arms of England and the aims of the Allies seemed to 
have triumphed. But the passionate determination of the 
French popular leaders and the mass of the French people 
to save the Revolution seemed to inspire them with a 
heroism that grew in proportion to the threatened danger. 
Her armies were swollen with enthusiastic recruits. Her 
internal revolts were coped with and crushed with savage 
severity. Loyal La A'^endee was beaten. The rebellious 
towns of Lyons and Marseilles almost ceased to exist under 
the merciless repression of their conquerors. Many of the 
allied armies were defeated, while those of the two German 
Powers for their own selfish ends played the game of revo- 
lutionary France by abstaining from any serious effort to 


advance into the country. Germany and Austria were con- 
fident that they could whenever they pleased crush revolu- 
tionary France, and they preferred to postpone the process, 
in order to occupy themselves in a new partition of Poland, 
which they could scarcely have carried out if the French 
monarchy had been restored. If there was nothing to 
justify the conduct of the two German Powers, there was 
jnuch to warrant their confidence in their own strength 
when they judged that the time had come for them to 
exert it. They counted upon the known when they 
measured their forces with those of revolutionary France; 
they could not count upon the unknown quantity which 
was to disturb all their calculations. The unknown quan- 
tity asserted itself just at the moment when France, in 
spite of some successes, seemed to be deeply wounded by 
the loss of Toulon. 

With the great port of Toulon in their hands the ad- 
versaries of France might well believe that a serious blow 
had been struck at her strength, and that the spirit which 
so long had defied them might yet be broken. But the suc- 
cess which had seemed to menace France so gravely proved 
to be but the point of departure for a new era of French 
glory. The occupation of Toulon is forever memorable, 
because it gave an opportunity to a young lieutenant of 
artillery in the French service, quite obscure in that ser- 
vice and wholly unknown outside of it. The quick intelli- 
gence of this young soldier perceived that the seizure of 
a certain promontory left unguarded by the invaders would 
place Toulon and those who had held it at the mercy of 
the French cannon. The suggestion was acted upon; was 
entirely successful; the English admiral was obliged to 
retire with all his fleet, and Toulon was once again a 
French citadel garrisoned by French soldiers. But the 
importance of the event for France and the world lay not 
in the capture but in the captor. Though Barras, confi- 
dent in his dominion over the Directory, might sneer at 
the young adventurer from Corsica and minimize his 
share in a success that had suddenly made him conspicu- 
ous, the name of Bonaparte then for the first time took its 


place in the history of Europe. The youth whose military 
genius had enabled him to see and to seize upon the fatal 
weakness in a well-defended city was destined to prove 
the greatest soldier France had ever known, the greatest 
as well as the most implacable enemy England had ever 
to reckon with, and one of the greatest conquerors that 
ever followed the star of conquest across the war-convulsed 

This is the story of England, not the story of France, 
and Napoleon was at his best and worst rather an influ- 
ence upon than an integral part of English history. It 
must be enough to say here that he is assumed to have 
been born in Ajaccio, in Corsica, in 1769; that when he 
was ten years old he tried to become French rather than 
Italian — a feat which he never successfully accomplished 
— by entering the military school of Brienne; that he 
served Louis the Sixteenth with indifference and the Eevo- 
lution with an ambition that Avas often baffled, and that 
he struck the first of his many strokes at England when 
he won Toulon for France. 

;jUO A llIbTUUy OF THE FOUR (jEUKGES. ch. lxi. 


" ninety-eight/' 

England was not concerned merely with the successes 
of France upon the Continent, with the French power of 
resisting invasion and preserving its capital and its con- 
stitution. The time was at hand when England was to 
take the French Republic into consideration as a more 
active enemy, whose enmity might take effect and be a 
very serious menace at her own doors. The breath of the 
French Revolution was to Great Britain like that of a 
sudden storm which sweeps round some stately mansion 
and finds out all its weak places and shatters some of its 
outlying buildings, although it cannot unroof its firmest 
towers or disturb its foundations. The weakest spot in 
Great Britain, and indeed we might almost say in the 
whole British Empire, was the kingdom of Ireland. Ire- 
land had for long been in a state of what might almost be 
called chronic rebellion against the rule of England. Eng- 
land's enemies had always been regarded as Ireland's 
friends by the Irishmen who claimed especially to repre- 
sent the national aspirations of their country. This is a 
fact which cannot be made too clear to the minds of Eng- 
lishmen even at the present day, for the simple reason 
that no one who is capable of forming a rational idea on 
the subject can doubt that where a government is persist- 
ently hated that government must have done much to de- 
serve the hate. 

It is not necessary here to undertake a survey of the 
many grievances of which Ireland complained under the 
rule of Great Britain. One grievance which was especially 
felt during the reign of George the Third came from the 
persistent refusal of the Hanoverian Sovereign to listen 


to any proposals for the relief of the Roman Catholics 
from the civil and religious disabilities under which they 
suffered. The Catholics constituted five-sixths of the 
whole population of Ireland, and up to the time of the 
War of Independence in America no Catholic in Great 
Britain or Ireland could sit in Parliament, or vote for the 
election of a member of Parliament, or act as a barrister 
or solicitor, or sit on a bench of magistrates or on a grand 
jury, or hold land, or obtain legal security for a loan. No 
doubt the state of the penal laws as they then existed was 
mitigated when compared with that which had prevailed 
but a short time before, when an ordinary Catholic had 
hardly any right to do more than live in Ireland, and a 
Catholic priest had not even a legal right to live there. 
But up to the time when the growing principles of liberty 
manifested themselves in the overthrow of the feudal sys- 
tem in France the Catholics in Great Britain and Ireland 
were practically excluded from any approach to civil or 
religious liberty. Ireland had a Parliament, but it was 
a Parliament of Protestants, elected by Protestants, and 
it w^as in fact a mere department of the King's Adminis- 
tration. The American War of Independence suddenly 
awakened wild hopes in the breasts of all oppressed na- 
tionalities, and the Irish Catholic population was among 
the first to be quickened by the new life and the new hope. 
The national idea was not, however, at first for a separa- 
tion from England. Ireland was then for the most part 
under the leadership of Henry Grattan, a patriot, states- 
man, and orator — an orator whom Charles James Fox de- 
scribed as the " Irish Demosthenes," and whom Byron 
glorified as " with all that Demosthenes wanted endued, 
and his rival and victor in all he possessed." 

Grattan's purpose was not separation from England or 
the setting up of an independent republic. An Ireland 
enjoying religious equality for all denominations and pos- 
sessing a Parliament thoroughly independent of that sit- 
ting at Westminster would have satisfied all his patriotic 
ambition. In fact, what Grattan would have desired for 
Ireland is exactly such a system as is now possessed by one 


of the provinces of Canada or Australia. When the alli- 
ance between France and independent America began to 
threaten Great Britain, and the English Government prac- 
fically acknowledged its inability to provide for the de- 
fence of Ireland, Henry Grattan, with other Irish patriots 
of equal sincerity, and some of them of even higher social 
rank, started the Irish Volunteer movement, to be a bul- 
wark of the country in case of foreign invasion. When the 
Irish patriots found themselves at the head of an army of 
disciplined volunteers they naturally claimed that the 
country which was able to defend herself should be al- 
lov/ed also an independent Parliament with which to make 
her domestic laws. They obtained their end, at least for 
the moment, and at least to all outward appearance, and 
Grattan was enabled to declare that for the first time he 
addressed a free Parliament in Ireland and to invoke the 
spirit of Swift to rejoice over the event. Catholic emanci- 
pation, however, had not yet been secured, although Grat- 
tan and those who worked with him did their best to carry 
it through the Parliament in Dublin. The obstinacy oi 
King George still prevailed against every eifort made by 
the more enlightened of his ministers. Pitt was in his 
brain and heart a friend of Catholic emancipation, but he 
had at last given way to the King's angry and bitter pro- 
tests and complaints, and had made up his mind never 
again to trouble his Sovereign with futile recommenda- 
tions. It so happened that a new Viceroy sent over to Ire- 
land in 1794, Earl Fitzwilliam, became impressed with a 
sense of the justice of the claims for Catholic emancipa- 
tion, and therefore gave spontaneous and honorable en- 
couragement to the hopes of the Irish leaders. The result 
was that after three months' tenure of office he was sud- 
denly recalled, and the expectations of the Irish leaders 
and the Irish people were cruelly disappointed. 

From that moment it must have been clear to any keen 
observer in Ireland that the influence of Grattan and his 
friends could no longer control the action of Irish na- 
tionalists in general, and that the policy of Grattan would 
no longer satisfy the popular demands of Ireland. Short 


as had been the Irish independent Parliament's term of 
existence, it had been long enough to satisfy most Irish- 
men that the control of the King's accepted advisers was 
almost as absolute in Dublin as in Westminster. To the 
younger and more ardent spirits among the Irish national- 
ists the setting up of a nominally independent Irish Par- 
liament had always seemed but a poor achievement when 
compared with the change which their national ambition 
longed for and which the conditions of the hour to all ap- 
pearance conspired to render attainable. These young men 
were now filled with all the passion of the French Revolu- 
tion; they had always longed for the creation of an inde- 
pendent Ireland; they insisted that Grattan's compromise 
had already proved a failure, and in France, the enemy 
of England, they found their new hopes for the emanci- 
pation of Ireland. 

There were among the Irish rebels, as they were soon to 
declare themselves, many men of great abilities and of the 
purest patriotic purpose. Among the very foremost of 
these were Theobald Wolfe Tone and Lord Edward Fitz- 
gerald. Both these men, like all the other leaders of the 
movement that followed, were Protestants, as Grattan 
was. Wolfe Tone was a young man of great capacity and 
promise, who began his public career as secretary to an 
association formed for the purpose of effecting the relief 
of the Eoman Catholics from the civil and religious dis- 
abilities which oppressed them. This society, after awhile, 
was named the Association of United Irishmen. The 
United Irishmen were at that time only united for the 
purpose of obtaining Catholic Emancipation. The associa- 
tion, as we shall soon see, when it failed of its first object 
became united for other and sterner purposes. Wolfe 
Tone was a young man of a brilliant Byronic sort of nat- 
ure. There was much in his character and temperament 
which often recalls to the mind of the reader the generous 
impulse, the chivalric ardor, and the impetuous eccentric- 
ity of Byron. Tone, as a youth, was a careless student, or, 
indeed, to put it more distinctly, he only studied the sub- 
jects he cared about and was in the habit of neglecting his 


collegiate tasks until the hour arrived when it became ab- 
solutely necessary that he should master them enough at 
least to pass muster for each emergency. He was a keen 
and close student of any subject which had genuine in- 
terest for him, but such subjects were seldom those which 
had anything to do with his academical career. He stud- 
ied law after a fashion in one of the London Inns of Court, 
and he was called to the Bar in due course; but he had no 
inclination whatever for the business of an advocate, and 
his mind was soon drawn away from the pursuit of a legal 
career. He had a taste for literature and a longing for 
travel and military adventure in especial, and for a time 
he lived a pleasant, free and easy, Bohemian sort of life, 
if we may use the term Bohemian in describing days that 
existed long before Henri Murger had given the word its 
modern application. 

One of the many odd, original ideas which floated like 
bubbles across Wolfe Tone's fancy was a scheme for found- 
ing a sort of military colony in some island in the South 
Seas, to act as a check upon the designs and enterprises of 
Spain against the British Empire. Tone took his idea so 
seriously that he wrote to William Pitt, the Prime Minis- 
ter, describing and explaining his project and asking for 
Government help in order to make it a reality. As will be 
easily understood, Pitt took no notice of the proposal, hav- 
ing probably a good many more suggestions made to him 
every day as to the best defences of England than he could 
possibly consider in a week. It is somewhat curious, how- 
ever, to find that Wolfe Tone should at one period of his 
life have formed the idea of helping England to defend 
herself against her enemies. Some historians have gone 
so far as to opine that if Pitt could have seen his way to 
take Tone's proposition seriously, and to patronize the 
young man, the world might never have heard of the in- 
surrection of " Ninety-Eight." But no one who gives any 
fair consideration to the whole career and character of 
Tone can have any doubt that Tone's passionate patriot- 
ism would have made him the champion of his own coun- 
try, no matter what prospects the patronage of an Eng- 

1763-98. THEOBALD WOLFE TONE. 311 

lish minister might have offered to his ambition. At the 
time when Tone was scheming out his project for the 
island in the South Seas the leaders in the national move- 
ment in Ireland still believed that the just claims of their 
people were destined to receive satisfaction from the wis- 
dom and justice of the English Sovereign. When it be- 
came apparent that Catholic Emancipation was not to be 
obtained through George the Third and through Pitt, then 
Wolfe Tone made up his mind that there was no hope for 
Ireland but in absolute independence, and that that inde- 
pendence was only to be won by the help of Xapoleon 
Bonaparte and of France. In the mean time Tone had 
taken a step which brilliant, gifted, generous, and im- 
pecunious young men usually take at the opening of their 
career — he had made a sudden marriage. Matilda Wither- 
ington was only sixteen when Tone persuaded her to accept 
him as her husband and to share his perilous career. Ko- 
mance itself hardly contains any story of a marriage more 
imprudent and yet more richly rewarded by love. Tone 
adored his young wife and she adored him. Love came in 
at their door and, though poverty entered there too, love 
never flew out at the window. The whole story of Wolfe 
Tone's public career may be read in the letters which, dur- 
ing their various periods of long separation, no difficulties 
and no dangers ever prevented him from writing to his 
wife. When he made up his mind to consecrate himself 
to the national cause of Ireland, and, if necessary, to die 
for it, he set forth his purpose to his wife, and she never 
tried to dissuade him from it. It is told of her that at one 
critical period of his fortunes she concealed from him the 
fact that she expected to become a mother, lest the knowl- 
edge might chill his patriotic enthusiasm or make him 
unhappy in his enterprise. 

Tone went out to America and got into council with the 
representative of the French Eepublic there; then he re- 
turned to Europe, and he entered into communication with 
Carnot and with Napoleon Bonaparte. To these and to 
others he imparted his plans for a naval and military ex- 
pedition from France to approach the coast of Ireland, to 


land troops there, and to make the beginning of a great 
Irish rebellion, which must distract the attention and ex- 
haust the resources of England and place her at the feet 
of all-conquering France. Tone felt certain that if an 
adequate number of French troops were landed on the 
western or southern shore of Ireland the whole mass of 
the population there would rally to the side of the invaders, 
and England would have to let Ireland go or waste herself 
in a hopeless struggle. Tone insisted in all his arguments 
and expositions that Ireland must be free and independent, 
and that no idea of conquering and annexing her must 
enter into the minds of the French statesmen and soldiers. 
Napoleon and Carnot approved of Tone's schemes as a 
whole, but Tone could not help seeing that Napoleon cared 
nothing whatever about the independence or prosperity of 
Ireland, and only took up with the whole scheme as a 
convenient project for the embarrassment and the distrac- 
tion of England. Tone received a commission in the army 
of the French Eepublic, and became the soul and the in- 
spiration of the policy which at fitful moments, when his 
mind was not otherwise employed, Napoleon was inclined 
to carry out on the Irish shores. 

Lord Edward Fitzgerald was a son of the great ducal 
house of Eeinster. He was born in the same year as Wolfe 
Tone; he was to die in the same year. It was his evil 
fortune to have to fight for the cause of King George 
against the uprising of the patriotic colonists of North 
America. He afterwards became filled with the ideas of 
the French Revolution, and got into trouble more than 
once by expressing his sentiments too freely while yet he 
wore the uniform of the British army. In Paris he be- 
came acquainted with Thomas Paine and was greatly 
taken with the theories and charmed with the ways of the 
revolutionary thinker, and in the company of Paine and 
congenial associates he took part in Republican celebra- 
tions which became talked of in England and led to his 
dismissal from the army. Lord Edward Fitzgerald had 
a strong love of adventure and exploration, and had con- 
trived to combine with his military career in the New 


World a number of episodes almost any one of which 
might have supplied the materials for a romance. He was 
a man of a thoroughly lovable nature, gallant, high-spir- 
ited, generous. Like Wolfe Tone, he had made a romantic 
marriage. His wife was the famous Pamela, the beautiful 
girl who was ward to Madame de Genlis, and commonly 
believed to be the daughter of the Duke of Orleans, Phi- 
lippe Egalite. Louis Philippe, afterwards King of France, 
was one of the witnesses at the marriage ceremony. Lord 
Edward was perfectly happy with his young and beautiful 
wife until the political events came on which gave the sud- 
den and tragic turn to his life. He was a member of the 
Irish Parliament for many years, and had on several oc- 
casions supported the policy which was advocated by Grat- 
tan. He too, however, soon made up his mind, as Wolfe 
Tone had done, that there was nothing to be expected from 
the Sovereign and his ministers, and he became an active 
member of the Society of United Irishmen when that as- 
sociation ceased to be a constitutional body and set its heart 
on armed rebellion. Ijord Edward went over to France 
and worked hard there for the purpose of obtaining armed 
assistance for the Irish cause, but he returned to Ireland 
to work up the rebellious movement there while Tone re- 
mained in France to influence as well as he could the policy 
of N'apoleon and Carnot. 

Among the other distinguished Irishmen who worked 
at home or in France — sometimes at home and sometimes 
in France — to promote the rebellion were Arthur O'Con- 
nor and Thomas Addis Emmet. Arthur O'Connor came 
of a great Irish family; Thomas Addis Emmet, after the 
failure of the rebellious movement, escaped to the United 
States and made a great position for himself as an advo- 
cate in New York. A younger brother of Thomas Emmet 
also took part in the organization of " Ninety-Eight," but 
the fate of Eobert Emmet will have a place to itself in 
this chapter of our history. 

One fact has to be mentioned, and must be kept con- 
stantly in mind when we are studying the grim story of 
** Ninety-Eight." Every step taken by the rebel leaders 


was almost instantly made known to the English Govern- 
ment. The spy, the hired informer, was then, as he has 
always been, in the very thick of the Irish national move- 
ment. Some of the informers in " Ninety-Eight " were 
of a different class from that of the ordinary police spy. 
and it has been made quite certain by sul)sequent dis- 
coveries that Wolfe Tone and Fitzgerald, Arthur O'Con- 
nor and the Emmets were in the closest friendly associa- 
tion with men whom they believed to be as genuine Irish 
patriots as themselves, but who were all the time in the 
pay of Pitt, and were keeping him well informed of every 
plan and project and movement of their leaders. As po- 
litical morals were then and are perhaps even now, it would 
be absurd to find fault with Pitt because he made use of 
the services of spies and informers to get at the plans of 
a number of men who proposed to invite a foreign enemy 
of England to invade the Irish shores, and were doing all 
they could to secure by armed rebellion the independence 
of Ireland. The wonder that will now occur to every 
reasonable mind is that the Irish leaders should have 
failed to guess that whatever money would do would be 
done by the English Government, as it would have been 
done by any other Government under similar conditions, to 
get at a knowledge of their designs and to counteract them. 
At all events, it is quite certain that while Tone and Fitz- 
gerald and their comrades were playing their gallant, 
desperate game, the British Minister was quietly looking 
over their shoulders and studying their cards. 

Napoleon Bonaparte, meanwhile, seems to have been but 
half-hearted about the scheme for the invasion of Ireland. 
He had many other schemes in his mind, some of which 
probably appeared more easy of accomplishment, and at 
all events promised a more immediate result than the 
proposed flank attack on the power of England. It is cer- 
tain that Wolfe Tone had long intervals of depression and 
despondency, against which it needed all the buoyancy of 
his temperament to sustain him. At last a naval expedi- 
tion was resolved on and despatched. In the late Decem- 
ber of 1796 a small French fleet, with about 14,000 troops 


on board, under the command of General Hoche, made for 
the southwestern shores of Ireland. Tone was on board 
one of the war vessels in his capacity as a French officer 
serving under General Hoche. The weather proved utterly 
unfavorable to the expedition. The war vessels were con- 
stantly parting company. The admiral's vessel, together 
with several others, was lost to sight on the very first night, 
and the heart of Tone grew sick as he saw that with every 
fresh outburst of the tempest the chances even of effecting 
a landing grew less and less. Most of the vessels entered 
Bantry Bay and lay helplessly at anchor there, but there 
was no landing. Tone's despondency and powerless rage 
as he foresaw the failure of his project might have been 
still deeper if he could have known how utterly unprepared 
the authorities of Dublin Castle were for any sort of in- 
vasion. Tone had observed already, as the expedition 
made its way from Brest, that they had not seen a single 
English vessel of war anywhere on the sea or around the 
Irish coasts. But he could have had no idea of the manner 
in which the British Government had intrusted the keeping 
of the island to the protection of the winds and of the 
fates. A letter written from Dublin by Elizabeth Moira 
Hastings, widow of the first Earl of Moira, throws a 
curious light on the state of things which existed among 
the governing authorities at the time of the invasion, and 
amazingly illustrates the odd rumors and wild conjectures 
which were floating about at the time. Writing to a 
friend in a different part of Ireland on January 19, 1797, 
Lady Moira says: 

" Our escape has been miraculous : the French fleet left 
Brest . . . mistook the Durseys for Mizen Head, and 
therefore did not make their entrance into Bantry Bay 
till the 24th, on which very day the storm arose and pre- 
vented the greater part of their fleet getting into the Bay, 
driving the greatest part of them out to sea. You will 
observe that it was on the 19th Lord i\Ialmesbury had 
orders to quit Paris. He undoubtedly had purchased in- 
telligence at a high price, being duped in that inquiry by 
the manoeuvres of the Directorv, and srave false information 


to England. Had the French landed on the 18th or 19th, 
which they might have done, had they not mistaken the 
Durseys, we should have had the French now governing 
in this metropolis. All agree that there never was an 
expedition so completely planned, and in some points so 
curiously furnished — the most beautiful ladies of easy 
virtue from Paris were collected and made a part of the 
freight. Hoche's mistress accompanied him, and his car- 
riage was on board ' La Ville d'Orient,' taken by the 
^ Druid.' The hussars taken on board that vessel were 
those who guarded the scaffold at the execution of the un- 
fortunate Lewis — they are clothed in scarlet jackets trim- 
med with gold and fur, and wear each the butcher's steel, 
on which they whet their knives, to whet their swords with. 
It is reported that Hoche and Reilly (one of the admirals) 
are gone off to America with seven hundred thousand 
pounds in specie that was on board their vessel to pay the 
troops. Others think the vessel has sunk, for neither of 
these personages or the frigate ' La Fraternite,' which 
they were on board, has been seen since they quitted Brest 
by any of the French vessels. What a fortunate person 
^Ir. Pitt is ! and what a benefit is good luck to its possessor ! 
The troops are all marching back to their old quarters; 
Cork and its environs indignant at Government for leaving 
them again to the entire care of Providence. ... It is a 
general belief among all parties that the French will re- 
visit Ireland, and at no distant period — probably the next 
dark nights. If the storms now prevented them they have 
learned how possible the attempt is, and how can such a 
coast be guarded? There has been much show of spirit 
and loyalty, and yet I thank God they did not land !" 

The words of Wolfe Tone, taken from his journal, may 
be accepted as the epitaph of the first French expedition. 
" It was hard," says Tone, " after having forced my way 
thus far, to be obliged to turn back ; but it is my fate, and 
I must submit. . . . Well, England has not had such an 
escape since the Spanish Armada; and that expedition, 
like ours, was defeated by the weather ; the elements fight 
against us, and courage is of no avail/' 


The French did return, as Lady Moira had predicted. 
They returned more than once, but there was a long in- 
terval between the first and the second visitation, and there 
were negotiations between the French and the Dutch He- 
public — the Batavian Kepublic, as it was called — which 
had been forming an alliance with France. Xeither the 
French Republic nor the Batavian felt any particular in- 
terest in the Irish movement, or cared very much whether 
Ireland obtained her national independence or had to live 
without it. France, of course, was willing to make use of 
Ireland as a vantage-ground from which to harass Great 
Britain, and the Batavian Republic, which had for some 
time been lapsing out of European notice, was eager to 
distinguish herself and to play a conspicuous political part 
once again. The idea at first was that Holland should 
furnish the naval expedition and France contribute the 
troops — 5000 Frenchmen, under the command of General 
Hoche, who were to land in Ireland and form the centre 
and rallying point for the United Irishmen. The Ba- 
tavian Republic, however, did not seem anxious to give all 
the military glory of the affair to France, and some ex- 
cuses were made on the ground that the discipline of the 
Dutch navy was somewhat too severe for the soldiers of 
France to put up with. General Hoche seems to have acted 
with great disinterestedness and moderation under trying 
conditions. He saw that the Dutch were anxious to make 
a name for themselves once more, and he feared that if 
he were to press for the embarkation of the French sol- 
diers it might lead to the abandonment of the whole ex- 
pedition. Longing as he was for the chance to distinguish 
himself in any attack upon England, he controlled his 
eagerness and consented that the Dutch should have the 
undertaking all to themselves. Poor Wolfe Tone had to 
wait and look on all this time, eating his own heart, ac- 
cording to the Homeric phrase. He has left us in his 
journal a description of his feelings as he saw the days go 
by without any movement being made to harass the Eng- 
lish enemy, and of his own emotions when what might 
have seemed the heaven-sent chance of the mutiny at the 


Nore broke out in the English fleet and no advantage 
could be taken of it to forward the chances of the expedi- 
tion from the Texel. For now again the skies and the 
winds had come to the defence of England, and the Dutch 
fleet was kept to its anchorage in its own waters. Various 
plans of warfare were schemed out by the Batavian Re- 
public, with the hope of putting the English naval authori- 
ties on a wrong scent, but all these schemes were suddenly 
defeated by the orders given to the Dutch admiral to put 
to sea at once. He did put to sea, and was encountered by 
Admiral Duncan, and the result was the great victory of 
Camperdown, won by the English over the Dutch after 
splendid fighting on both sides. Admiral Duncan thereby 
became Lord Camperdown and the Batavian Eepublic 
dropped all ideas of a naval expedition against England. 
Meanwhile the gallant General Hoche had died, and Wolfe 
Tone lost a true friend, with whom, from the beginning of 
their acquaintance, he had been in thorough sympathy. 

All this time the condition of things in Ireland was be- 
coming desperate. After the appearance of the fleet in 
Bantry Bay, and the hopes which it created on the one side 
and the alarms on the other, the ruling powers in Dublin 
Castle, and indeed at Westminster, had no other idea but 
that of crushing out the rebellious spirit of the Irish 
people by Coercion Acts and by military law. The na- 
tional sentiment of Ireland counted for nothing with them. 
It may be safely laid down as an axiom in political history 
that the men who are not able to take account of the force 
of what they would call a mere national sentiment in pub- 
lic afl^airs are not and never can be fit to carry on the great 
work of government. Ireland was overrun by militia regi- 
ments, sent over from England and Scotland, who had no 
sympathy whatever with the Irish people, and regarded 
them simply as revolted slaves to be scourged back into 
submission or shot down if they persevered in refusing to 
submit. Other forces representing law and order were 
found in the yeomanry, who were chiefly Orangemen and 
officered by Orangemen, and who regarded the Catholic 
peasantry as their born enemies. A state of tumult raged 


through the greater part of the unhappy island, and there 
cannot be the slightest doubt that the floggings, hangings, 
and shootings inflicted by the militia and by the yeomen 
were in many cases done not so much in punishment as in 
anticipation of rebellious movements on the part of the 
Catholics. In the mean time preparations were unquestion- 
ably going on in many Irish counties, more especially in 
Ulster, for an outbreak of rebellion. The organization 
of United Irishmen was adding to its numbers of sworn-in 
members every day, and the making of pikes was a busy 
manufacture all over many of the counties. Grattan and 
some of his friends made many efforts in the Irish House 
of Commons to induce the Government to devise some 
means for the pacification of Ireland other than Coercion 
Acts, the scourge, the bullet, and the gallows. Finding 
their efforts wholly in vain, Grattan, Arthur O'Connor, 
Lord Edward Fitzgerald and his brother, and many other 
men of high character and position withdrew from the 
Dublin Parliament altogether, and left to the Government 
the whole responsibility for the results of its policy. It 
is alwa3^s to be regretted that a man like Grattan should 
ever recede from his position as a constitutional patriot in 
the assembly where alone his counsels can have any practi- 
cal weight; but of Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Arthur 
O'Connor the same is not to be said, for these men and 
many of their friends had made up their minds that the 
time had come when only in armed rebellion there remain- 
ed any hope for Ireland. In the English Parliament some 
efforts were made by Charles James Fox and by Whit- 
bread to obtain an inquiry into the real cause of the 
troubles in Ireland, but the attempts were ineffectual, and 
the authorities at Dublin Castle were allowed to carry out 
their own peculiar policy without control or check of any 

Once again the fates were suddenly unpropitious to the 
Irish national movement. The force which was intended 
for Ireland was siiddenly ordered to form a part of the 
expedition which Bonaparte was leading against Egypt. 
Thereupon the chiefs of the L^nited Irishmen began to see 


that there was not rrmch hope to be founded on any help 
to come from France, and it was decided that Ireland 
should enter into open armed rebellion under the command 
of Lord Edward Fitzgerald. It was confidently believed 
that all but a small number of the Irish counties would 
rise to arms at once under such leadership, and the Irish 
leaders little knew how completely the Government was 
supplied with the knowledge of all the Irish national plans 
and movements. Indeed, there seems only too much reason 
to believe that the policy of Pitt had long been to force 
the Irish into premature rebellion by the persistent appli- 
cation of the system of coercion, represented by what were 
called " free quarters '' — in other words, the billeting of 
soldiers indiscriminately among the houses of the peas- 
antry, thereby leaving the wives and daughters of Irish 
Catholics at the mercy of a hostile soldiery — by the burn- 
ing of houses, the shooting dowTi of almost defenceless 
crowds, and the flogging and hanging of men and women. 
Certain it is that many of the British officers high in 
command protested loudly against such a policy, and that 
some of them positively refused to carry it out, and pre- 
ferred to incur any rebuke rather than be the instruments 
of such indiscriminate oppression. Pitt and the authori- 
ties at Dublin Castle probably reasoned with themselves 
that since the rebellion was certain to come it was better 
to press it on prematurely, so that it might be easily 
crushed, rather than leave it to take its own time and put 
its plans into execution when they should have arrived at a 
formidable maturity. 

The rebellion broke out in the early part of 1798. It 
had some brilliant temporary successes in Wexford County 
and in other counties. In one part of Wexford the move- 
ment was literally forced upon the people by the out- 
rageous conduct of the militia and the yeomanry. One 
of the local Irish priests, Father John Murphy, had used 
all his efforts up to the last in the cause of order, and had 
been most energetic in persuading the people to give up 
their pikes and other weapons to the local authorities. 
After the people had surrendered their arms the scourg- 


mg, shooting, and hanging went on just the same as be- 
fore, and Father John Murphy and numbers of his parish- 
ioners were forced to take refuge in the woods. Then 
for the first time Father Murphy became a rebel. More 
than that, he became all at once an insurgent general. He 
put himself at the head of the despairing peasantry, and 
he suddenly developed a decided talent for the work of an 
insurgent chief. His people were armed for the most part 
only with pitchforks and with spades. Their pikes had 
nearly all been surrendered; only some few of the farm- 
ing class had guns; and there was, of course, no sort of 
heavy artillery. Father Murphy showed his people how 
to barricade with carts the road through which a body of 
cavalry were expected to pass, and at the right moment, 
just when the cavalry found themselves unexpectedly ob- 
structed, the insurgents suddenly attacked them with pitch- 
forks and spades, won a complete victory, and utterly 
routed their opponents. By this success the rebels became 
possessed of a considerable number of carbines, and were 
put in heart for further enterprises. Father John Murphy 
won several other victories, and for the hour was master 
of a large part of Wexford. One of those who took service 
under him was a young man. Miles Byrne, scarcely eigh- 
teen 3^ears of age, who afterwards rose to high distinction 
in the French army under Napoleon, and maintained his 
position and repute under the Eestoration, and might have 
been seen up to the year 1862, a white-headed, white-beard- 
ed veteran, sunning himself in the gardens of the Tuil- 
eries. Father Murphy, however, was not able long to hold 
out. The want of weapons, the want of money and of all 
other resources, and no doubt the want of military ex- 
perience, put him and his men at a hopeless disadvantage, 
and he was defeated in the end, and was executed in the 
early summer of 1798. 

While the rebellion lasted there were, no doubt, many 
excesses on both sides. The rebels sometimes could not be 
prevented by their leaders from fearful retaliations on 
those at whose hands they had seen their kindred suffer. 
The gallant Miles Byrne himself has told us in his memoirs 
VOL. m. — 11 


how in certain instances he found it impossible to check 
the rage of his followers until their fury had found some 
satisfaction in what they believed to be the wild justice 
of revenge. No one, however, who has studied the history 
of the times even as it is told by loyalist narrators will feel 
surprised that the policy which had forced on the outbreak 
of the rebellion should have driven the rebels into retalia- 
tion on the few occasions when they had the upper hand 
and found their enemies at their mercy. It has never 
been denied that the excesses committed by the rebels 
were but the spasmodic outbreaks of the passion of re- 
taliation, and that the Irish leaders everywhere did all 
they could to keep their followers within the bounds of 
legitimate warfare. It is not necessary to follow out in 
detail the story of the rebellion. With no material help 
from abroad there could have been but one end to it, and 
the end soon came. A peasantry armed with pikes could 
hardly hold their own for very long even against the 
militia imported from Great Britain, the Orange yeo- 
manry, and the Hessian troops hired from Germany, to say 
nothing of the regular English soldiers, who were armed 
and trained to war. Even the militiamen and the yeo- 
manry had better weapons than the pikemen who followed 
their Irish leaders to the death. Before the rebellion was 
wholly crushed Lord Edward Fitzgerald was dead. The 
plans arranged by the leaders of the movement had ap- 
pointed a certain day for the rising to begin ; the outbreak 
in Wexford, as has already been shown, was entirely unpre- 
meditated, and merely forced on by events; and, as might 
have been expected, the plans were betrayed to the authori- 
ties of Dublin Castle. Some of the leaders were instantly 
arrested, and Lord Edward had to fly and conceal himself. 
His hiding-place was soon discovered, and he was arrested 
in Thomas Street, Dublin, on May 19, 1798. Lord Edward 
at first refused to surrender, and fought desperately for 
his life. He wounded some of his assailants, and re- 
ceived himself a bullet in his body. He was then carried 
to prison, where he died sixteen days after. " Fitly might 
the stranger lingering here," as Byron says of another hero, 



pray for that gallant spirit's bright repose." Even 
George the Third himself might have felt some regret for 
the state of laws which had turned Edward Fitzgerald 
into an enemv. 

Suddenly another attempt to help Ireland and harass 
England was made from the French side of the English 
Channel. Bonaparte was away on his Egyptian expedi- 
tion, and the Directorv in his absence did not wish to fore- 
go all idea of sending a force to Ireland, but were evi- 
dently not very strong on the subject and did not seem 
quite to know how to set about such a business. For 
awhile they kept two or three small bodies of troops ready 
at certain ports within easy reach of the English shores, 
and a number of vessels at each port waiting for sudden 
orders. General Humbert, an adventurous soldier of for- 
tune, who had courage enough but not much wisdom, grew 
impatient at the long delay of the Directory, and thought 
he could not do better to force the hand of the Directory 
than to start an expedition himself. Accordingly he took 
command of a force of about a thousand men in number 
which had been placed at his disposal for an undefined 
date, and with three or four ships to convey his men he 
made for the Irish shores. He landed at Killala Bav, in 
the province of Connaught, and he made his way inland 
as far as the county of Longford. The Irish peasantry 
rallied round him in considerable numbers, and were re- 
ceived by him as part of the army and invested with the 
French uniform. He began his march with a sudden and 
complete victory over a body of English troops considerably 
outnumbering his own force, but whom he managed clever- 
ly to surprise, and among whom a regular panic seems to 
have set in. Humbert's scheme was, however, hopeless. 
The part of the country through which he was marching 
was thinly populated, and large bodies of English troops, 
under experienced commanders, were approaching him 
from all sides. By the time he had reached the county of 
Longford he found himself faced, or indeed all but sur- 
rounded, by the royal troops under the command of Lord 
Cornwallis. There was nothing for Humbert but to sur- 


render, and he and his French followers were treated as 
prisoners of war after a final and brilliant fight and sent 
back to France. The Irish insurgents who had fought 
under his leadership dispersed and fled after the sur- 
render, well knowing that they would not be included in its 
terms and treated as prisoners of war, and they were pur- 
sued by the royal troops and most of them were killed. 
Matthew Tone, a brother of Wolfe Tone, was one of those 
who had fought under Humbert. He was made prisoner, 
taken to Dublin, and executed there within a few days. 
Thus ended the second expedition from France for the 
relief of Ireland. 

Wolfe Tone meanwhile was waiting in France, hoping 
against hope. He had as yet known nothing of the fort- 
unes and failure of Humbert's expedition. Some ex- 
tracts from a letter written to his wife about this time have 
a melancholy interest. 

" Touching money matters, I have not yet received a 
sou, and last night I was obliged to give my last five 
guineas to my countrymen here. I can shift better than 
they can. I hope to receive a month's pay to-day, but it 
will not be possible to remit you any part of it; you must 
therefore carry on the war as best you can for three or four 
months, and before that is out we will see further. ... I 
am mortified at not being able to send you a remittance, 
but you know it is not my fault. 

" We embark about 3000 men, with 12 pieces of artil- 
lery, and I judge about 20,000 stand of arms. We are 
enough, I trust, to do the business, if we arrive safe. 

" With regard to myself, I have had every reason to be 
satisfied; I stand fair with the General and my cama- 
rades; I am in excellent health and spirits; I have great 
confidence in the success of our enterprise; and, come 
what may, at least I will do what is right. The time is so 
short that I must finish this; I will, if possible, write to 
you again, but if we should unexpectedly sail my next will 
be, I hope, from Ireland." 

The embarking to which Tone referred was that of an 
expedition which the Directory had at last resolved to 


despatch from Brest for the Irish shore. By a somewhat 
touching coincidence Tone found himself on board a war- 
vessel called the " Hoche/' which was under the command 
of the admiral of the little fleet. This expedition con- 
sisted of one sail of the line and eight frigates, with 3000 
French soldiers. It sailed on September 20, 1798; but 
the destinies were against it, as they had been against its 
predecessors, and contrary winds compelled the admiral 
to make a wide sweep out of what would otherwise have 
been its natural course. It was not until October 10 that 
the little fleet, then reduced to four vessels — the others 
had been scattered — reached the shore of Lough Swilly, 
on the northwest coast of Ireland, and was there encoun- 
tered by a fleet of six English sail of the line and two 
frigates. The admiral of the French fleet saw that there 
was no chance whatever of his fighting his way through 
such an opposition, and he made up his mind to offer the 
best resistance he could for the honor of the French flag. 
He promptly gave signals for the lighter vessels, which 
would have been of little practical service in such a strug- 
gle, to make the safest retreat they could, and with his own 
vessel resolved rather perhaps to do and die than to do or 
die. A boat came from one of the frigates to take his final 
instructions, and he and all the French officers, naval and 
military, who were on board the " Hoche " strongly urged 
Wolfe Tone to go to the frigate in the boat and thus save 
his life. They pointed out to him that if they were capt- 
ured they must be treated as prisoners of war, but that no 
mercy would be shown to him, a subject of King George, 
taken in French uniform. Wolfe Tone peremptorily de- 
clined to accept the General's advice. It should never be 
said of him, he declared, that he saved his life and left 
Frenchmen to fight and die in the cause of his country. 
A fierce naval battle took place, and the French admiral 
fought until he was overpowered, and had no course left 
to him but to surrender. The French officers who had 
survived the fight were all taken to Letterkenny, Tone 
among the number. Tone was in French uniform, and 
might have passed unrecognized as a French officer but that 


an Ulster magnate, Sir George Hill, who had known him 
in earlier days, became at once aware of his identity, and 
addressed him by name. Tone calmly and civilly replied 
to the greeting, and courteously asked after the health of 
the wife of his discoverer. Then all was over so far as 
Tone was concerned. He was conveved to Dublin and 
tried by court-martial as a rebel and a traitor to George 
the Third. He defended himself in a speech of remarkable 
eloquence — that is, if he can be said to have defended him- 
self when his whole speech was a frank avowal of his pur- 
pose to fight for the independence of Ireland. He declared 
that he thoroughly understood the consequences of his 
failure, and was prepared to abide by them. " Washing- 
ton," he said, " succeeded, and Kosciusko failed ;" and he 
only insisted that in his case, as in that of Kosciusko, 
failure brought with it no dishonor. The one sole appeal 
which he made was that he might be allowed to die a 
soldier's death — that he might be shot and not hanged. 
Tone was found guilty, of course; there was no choice 
left to the court-martial on that question, and his appeal 
as to the mode of his death was refused by the Lord- 
Lieutenant. John Philpot Curran, the great advocate, 
made a motion in the King's Bench to the effect that Tone 
should be removed from the custody of the Provost-Mar- 
shal and tried before a civil tribunal, on the ground that 
Tone was not in the English army, and that, as the civil 
courts were sitting, there was no warrant for the inter- 
ference of martial law. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Kil- 
warden, a man whose public spirit and whose devotion to 
law and justice would have done honor to any bench, ruled 
in favor of Curran's appeal, and ordered that Tone be 
removed from the custody of the Provost-Marshal. When 
the Provost-Marshal declined to obey the order the Chief 
Justice directed that the Provost-Marshal be taken into 
custody, and that he, along with Tone, be brought before 
the Court. The decision came too late so far as Tone was 
concerned. Eather than endure the ignominy of a public 
execution by the gallows, which he believed to be awaiting 
.him, he had found means to open a vein in his throat, 

1778-1803. ROBERT EMMET. 327 


You see I am but a poor anatomist/' he said with a quiet 
smile to the surgeon who was brought to his bedside. He 
lingered in a half-unconscious state for a few days and 
then died. His death was the closing event of the Irish 
insurrection of 1798. 

There was, however, a sort of afterbirth of the struggle 
of " Xinety-Eight " in the attempt hazarded by Eobert 
Emmet, to which we have already made anticipatory allu- 
sion. Eobert Emmet, the brother of Thomas Addis Em- 
met, was a young Irishman of great abilities and of gen- 
erous, unselfish, imprudent enthusiasm. He could not 
bring himself to believe that the hopes of Irish independ- 
ence were buried even in the graves of Lord Edward Fitz- 
gerald and ^Yolfe Tone. He had no trust whatever in any 
assistance to be given from France, but he set himself to 
organize a movement which should be Irish only and 
should find its whole organization and its battle-field on the 
soil of Ireland. He found numbers of brave and ardent 
young men to assist him, and he planned out another ris- 
ing, which was to begin with a seizure of Dublin Castle and 
a holding of the capital as a centre and a citadel of the new 
movement for Irish independence. Emmet's passion for 
national independence had been strengthened by the pass- 
ing of the Act of Union. The Act of Union had long been 
a project in the mind of Pitt, and indeed it was the opinion 
of many observers then, and of some historical students 
from that time to the present, that Pitt had forced on the 
Irish rebellion in order to give an excuse for the absolute 
extinction of the Irish Parliament and the centralization 
of the system of government in the Parliament sitting at 
Westminster. It is, at all events, quite certain that Pitt 
accomplished his scheme for a legislative union between 
Great Britain and Ireland by a wholesale system of bribery, 
the bribery taking the form of peerages, of high-salaried 
appointments, of liberal pensions, and even of sums of 
ready money. All that was really national in the Irish 
Parliament fought to the last against Pitt's Act of Union, 
but the Act was carried, and it came into operation on 
January 1, 1801 . The Act itself and the methods by which 


it was passed only gave to Robert Emmet a fresh stimulus 
to prepare his plans for the independence of Ireland. We 
need not follow in detail the story of these plans and the 
attempt to put them into execution. Robert Emmet's 
projects were, no doubt, all well known to the authorities 
of Dublin Castle before any attempt could be made to 
carry them out. In any case their chances of success seem 
to have depended very much upon the simultaneous action 
of a great number of persons in a great number of different 
places, and the history of every secret revolutionary move- 
ment tells us of the almost insuperable difficulty there is 
in getting all the actors of such a drama to appear upon 
the stage at the same moment and at the right moment. 
Emmet's plan broke down, and it ended not even in a 
general rising of the nationalists of Dublin, but in a mere 
street riot, the most sad and shocking event in which was 
the murder of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Kilwarden. 
While Emmet, in another part of the city, was vainly 
striving to retrieve the disorder into which the excesses 
of some of his followers had broken up the plan of attack. 
Lord Kilwarden's carriage was stopped by a body of un- 
disciplined and infuriated rioters, and one man thrust a 
pLke into Kilwarden's body. Emmet himself came too 
late upon the scene to rescue the Chief Justice, and from 
that moment he gave up all hope of anything like orderly 
action on the part of the insurgents, and indeed his whole 
effort was to get his followers to disperse and to stop any 
rising in the adjacent counties. Kilwarden died soon after 
he had received his wound, but not before he had uttered the 
noble injunction that no man should suffer for his death 
without full and lawful trial. Seldom has even the assas- 
sin's hand stricken a worse blow than that which killed 
liOrd Kilwarden. In an age when corrupt judges and par- 
tial judges were not uncommon, Kilwarden was upright, 
honorable and just. The fiercest nationalist of the day la- 
mented his death. He had again and again stood before the 
Crown officials and interposed the shield of law between 
them and the victims whom they strove by any process to 
bring to death. Emmet made his way into Wicklow with 


the main purpose of stopping the intended outbreak of in- 
surrection there, as he saw now that no such attempts could, 
under the conditions, end in anything but useless bloodshed. 
His friends urged him to make his escape to France, and he 
might easily have escaped but that he went back to Dub- 
lin with the hope of seeing once again Sarah Curran, the 
youngest daughter of the great advocate, with whom he 
was devotedly in love. He was recognized, arrested, and 
sent to trial before Lord Xorbury, a judge who bore a very 
different sort of reputation from that which honored Lord 
Kilwarden. Emmet made a brilliant and touching speech, 
not in defence of himself against the charge of trying to 
create a rebellion, for he avowed his purpose and glorified 
it, but in vindication of his cause and in utter denial of 
the accusation commonly brought against him that he in- 
tended to make his country the subject of France. He was 
found guilty, sentenced to death, and executed on the 
morning after his trial. Thomas Moore, the Irish poet, 
who was a college friend of Emmet's, has embalmed his 
memory in three beautiful songs, " She is far from the land 
where her young hero sleeps," she being of course Sarah 
Curran, to whom Emmet addressed his last written words; 
" Oh, breathe not his name," and " When he who adores 
thee," an appeal to Ireland to remember him who had at 
least " the pride of thus dying for thee." Washington 
Irving, the American author, devoted a touching essay, 
called " The Broken Heart," to the story of Eobert Emmet 
and his blighted passion. The lovers of romance may be 
somewhat disconcerted to hear that Sarah Curran married 
after her young hero's death; but she remained single 
many years, and there is no reason to suppose that she ever 
forgot or disclaimed her affection for Eobert Emmet. 
Wolfe Tone's wife married again some sixteen years after 
the husband of her youth had passed away. Her grave is 
to be seen in a cemetery close to Washington, in the United 
States, the land in which Wolfe Tone's widow passed all 
the later vears of her life. 

With the failure and the death of Eobert Emmet closed 
the last rebellious rising in Ireland which belongs to the 


history of the Georges. Pitt's Act of Union is still in 
force, but it would be idle to say that it is anything more 
than in force. The union between England and Scotland. 
to which Pitt's supporters so often triumphantly appealed, 
was made under conditions and on terms totally different 
from those which had to do with the union between Eng- 
land and Ireland. 




I^OTHING in the history of the world is quite as wonder- 
ful as the history of the first Napoleon. No other man 
ever rose from so little to so much, ever played a greater 
part in the eyes of the civilized world, was more mon- 
strous in his triumphs or more tragic in his fall. Every- 
thing connected with his strange career was distorted, ex- 
aggerated, seemingly out of all proportion to the familiari- 
ties, the conventionalities, and even the possibilities of ex- 
istence. As the ancient Grreeks, in their sculpture, for the 
delineation of their gods permitted themselves the use of 
the heroic size and made their immortals and their demi- 
gods more than common tall, and more than common 
comel}^, so might the modern historian seem privileged in 
the use of a superlative style in dealing with a life so phe- 
nomenal, so unbounded by the average horizon, so ungov- 
erned by the ordinary laws. And yet no more is needed 
than the cold statement of the stages in that great stor)% 
of the steps which conducted to the summit of the pyramid 
onlv to be descended on the other side. Such a statement 
is itself the sermon on an earthly glory that was almost un- 
earthly in the vastness of its aims and of its gains, and on 
a humiliation that restored humanity to reason and re- 
affirmed the inexorable lesson. As the mere names of bat- 
tles on the commemorative arch appeal to the memories, 
the ambitions, and the passions of a military race with a 
monumental emphasis that is not to be rivalled by the 
painter or writer, so a few simple words serve to contrast 
with a simplicity that is in itself a pomp the crowns and 
the catastrophes of that amazing visitation. " Corsica," 
" St. Helena," " Brumaire," " i\roscow," " Toulon," 


" Waterloo." The chronicle of the great conqueror is writ- 
ten in little in the names of two islands, two battles, and 
two towns. 

To Frenchmen, even to the Frenchmen who are most 
opposed to him, Napoleon must always be an object for 
gratitude and for admiration. The most passionate cham- 
pion of the Bourbon lilies and the doctrine of the divine 
right of kings cannot refuse to recognize that Napoleon 
Bonaparte gave to France a greater military glory than 
she had ever known or ever dreamed of before. The most 
devout disciple of the principles of '89, the fieriest apostle 
of the Eevolution that went down into the dust before the 
cunning of Barras and the cannon of the Corsican advent- 
urer, is obliged to admit the splendid services that Na- 
poleon Bonaparte rendered to his adopted country. The 
one antagonist confesses that the Napoleonic eagles flew 
with the length of flight and the strength of wing of the 
Eoman eagles. The other antagonist sees with approval 
the Code Napoleon and the Order of the Legion of Honor, 
the Simplon Road and the Canal of St. Quentin, the en- 
couragement given to arts, to letters, and to commerce, the 
reorganization of finance and the reconstitution of the 
army. But to the average Englishman of that time, and 
for long afterwards. Napoleon was first and last and al- 
ways the implacable enemy of Great Britain. From the 
day of Toulon to the day of Waterloo, Bonaparte was the 
Big Bogey of England; always either fighting against her 
openly or plotting against her secretly, always guided by 
one purpose, always haunted by one hope — the conquest 
of a country that had learned to look upon herself as un- 
conquerable. Pitt, who hated war, was destined to play 
the uncongenial part of a War Minister, with one short 
interval, for the rest of his life, and to devote his genius 
and his energy to a life-and-death struggle with the soldier 
of fortune who was yesterday the hero of Italy, to-day First 
Consul, to-morrow to be Emperor of the French. The 
story of Pitt's life, for the rest of Pitt's life, is the story 
of a struggle against Napoleon, a struggle maintained 
under difficulties and disadvantages that might well have 


broken a strong man's heart, and that seemed to end in 
disaster when the strong man's heart was broken. 

It looked for long enough as if nothing could withstand 
the military genius or sate the ambition of Kapoleon. On 
his sword sat laurel victory, and smooth success was strewn 
before his feet. He overran Egypt, and dreamed of rival- 
ling the Eastern conquests of Alexander. The Kingdoms 
of Europe crumpled up before him. On land he seemed 
to be little less than invincible. England was only safe 
from him because England held the supremacy of the sea. 
When the war with France began England was blessed 
with an effective navy, and England's fleet was England's 
fortune in the days when the conqueror of a continent was 
the nightmare of an island. A monstrous regiment of 
caricaturists were painting themselves into fame by fan- 
tastic and ferocious presentations of the man who was so 
fiercely hated because he was so greatly dreaded. Some of 
these caricatures are pitifully ignoble, some in their kind 
are masterpieces; all are animated by a great fury that is 
partly the outcome of a great fear. For years that fear 
was always present; for years it was always well within 
the bounds of possibility that the fear might be realized 
in a great national catastrophe. In every coast town of 
England men volunteered and drilled and manned de- 
fences, and scanned with anxious eyes the horizon for the 
sails that were to fulfil a menace more terrible than the 
menace of the Armada. England's military fame had 
dwindled on the battle-fields of Europe; England's 
strength at home was as nothing compared to the strength 
that France could employ against her if once France could 
obtain a landing on her shores. Xapoleon had declared 
scornfully that the country with the few millions of men 
must give way to the country with many millions of men. 
All that he needed to reduce England, as he had reduced 
so many other of the kingdoms of the earth, was to place 
his armed majority where it could act with overwhelming 
force against an armed minority. Only one thing lay 
between him and his purpose, but that one thing was the 
navy of England. Xapoleon knew that if he had but com- 


mand of the Channel for a very few hours the landing of 
which he had dreamed, and for which he had schemed so 
long, would be a reality, and a march on London as easy 
as a march on Vienna. But he never got those few hours' 
command of the sea. Perhaps no greater monument of 
human vanity exists than the medal which Napoleon, 
madly prophesying, caused to be struck in commemoration 
of the conquest of England. Perhaps no pages of all the 
pages of history are more splendid than those which record 
the triumphs and the glories of the English fleet in the 
mortal struggle with France. When the great war began 
it was well for England that her navy was in effective con- 
dition ; it was perhaps better still that the traditions of her 
navy were rich with heroic deeds, examples splendid to 
emulate, hard to surpass, but which, however, the sailors 
of King George the Third were destined to surpass. 

Yet the conditions of life under which the English sailor 
lived were scarcely of a kind to foster the serene, austere 
virtues of patriotism and heroism. The English sailor 
was often snared into the active service of his country 
sorely against his will by means of the odious instrument 
for recruiting known as the press-gang. His existence on 
board the mighty and beautiful men-of-war was a life that 
at its best was a life of the severest hardship, and that at 
its worst was hard indeed to endure. He and his fellows 
were herded together under conditions of indescribable 
filth, squalor, and discomfort, often foolishly ill-fed, often 
cruelly ill-treated, often the victims of intolerable tyranny 
from brutal superiors. It is sometimes little short of 
marvellous that the sailors on whose faith the safety of 
England depended should have proved so faithful, so cheer- 
ful, so desperately brave. There was, indeed, a moment 
when the faith of some of them failed, and when the safety 
of England was in greater jeopardy than it had been in 
since the crescent of the Armada was reported off Ply- 
mouth or the Dutch ships lay in the Med way. While the 
war with France was still in its gloomy dawn the unwis- 
dom of treating British sailors worse than beasts of burden 
came near to wrecking the kingdom. In 1797 the crews 


of very man}^ of the King's ships were exasperated by ill- 
treatments and injustices of many kinds, exasperated most 
of all by the fatal folly of long arrears of pay — a folly 
which in France, but eight years earlier, had been one of 
the most powerful factors in aiding the spread of the 
Eevolution. There came a point when the sense of injury 
seemed too hard to bear, and England was startled by the 
news of a mutiny at Spithead. But the mutiny, if alarm- 
ing, was kept within moderate bounds and under control 
by the mutineers ; it was temperately met and temperately 
dealt with by Lord Howe, and it soon came to an end. It 
was immediately followed by a far more alarming mutiny 
which broke out among the ships at the Nore. This 
mutiny, headed by a seaman named Parker, who proved 
himself a bold and daring spirit, swelled swiftly to serious 
proportions. Londoners saw the mouth of their river 
blockaded by the war-ships of England, saw their capital 
city fortified against the menaces of the men they relied 
upon as their saviors. Admiral Duncan, busily engaged in 
keeping a Dutch fleet cooped up in the river Texel, sud- 
denly beheld almost the whole of his squadron desert him 
and sail away to join Parker and his fellow-mutineers at 
the N'ore. It was one of the gravest crises in English his- 
tor}^ one of the greatest perils that England had to face 
during the whole of the French war. But the danger was 
weathered, the peril overcome. The Government faced the 
dangers of mutiny as firmly as they had faced the dangers 
of the war. Whatever the provocation, mutiny at such a 
moment Avas a national crime. It flickered out as tamely 
as it blazed up fiercely. Parker and some of his fellow- 
conspirators were hanged, strong men dying unhappily, 
and once again England had only her foreign foes to 
reckon with. Over away by the Texel stout-hearted Dun- 
can, with only his flagship and two frigates to represent 
the sea power of England, met the difficulty with a shifti- 
ness worthy of Ulysses. Through all his long hours of 
loneliness he kept on gallantly signalling away to an 
imaginary fleet, and the Dutchmen in the Texel little 
dreamed that they were held in check by a deserted admiral 


upon a desolate sea. When at last they emerged, Duncan's 
danger was over ; his faithless vessels had returned to their 
faith, and the crushing victory of Camperdown consoled 
one of the bravest of the brave for an agony unrivalled in 
the story of the sea. 

The British admirals are the heroes of the dying eigh- 
teenth century. " Admirals all, they said their say, the 
echoes are rising still " — in the words of Henry Newbolt's 
gallant song. " Admirals all, they went their way to the 
haven under the hill." Dundonald was called, and finely 
called, the last of the sea-kings; but they were all true 
kinsmen of the Vikings, the admirals who were famous 
figures in Dundonald's fiery youth and famous memories 
in Dundonald's noble age. And as the admirals 
were, so were the captains, so were the men. Fearney 
sticking the surrendered swords in a sheaf under his arm ; 
Walton calmly informing his superior that " we have taken 
or destroyed all the Spanish ships on this coast: number 
as per margin," are typical figures in a tradition of a 
courage so superlative that Admiral Sir Eobert Calder, 
who fought very gallantly and took two ships, was tried 
by court-martial and severely reprimanded for not having 
destroyed the French fleet. The age of George the Third 
would be memorable, if it were memorable for nothing 
else, for the deeds and the glories of the great sea fights 
and the great sea fighters who saved England from in- 
vasion, knocking the tall ships of France to pieces, taking 
monstrous odds with alacrity,, eager to engage in all 
weathers and under all conditions, cheerfully converting 
what seemed an impossible task into not merely a feasible 
but an easy piece of business. There are some sea battles 
of that time, fought out in storm and darkness, which read 
in the tamest statement with the pomp and beauty of the 
most majestic music. The names of the great admirals 
must always be dear to English ears, must always sound 
sweet on English lips. St. Vincent, Collingwood, Howe, 
Duncan, the noble list proceeds, each name illuminated 
with its only splendid story of desperate enterprise and 
deathless honor, till the proudest name of all is reached, 

1758-1805. NELSON. 337 

and praise itself seems to falter and fall off before the 
lonely grandeur of Xelson. jS'ever was a little life filled 
with greater achievements; never was a little body more 
compact of the virtues that make great captains and 
brave men. The life that began in the September of 1758 
and that ended in the October of 1805 holds in 
the compass of its forty-seven years the epitome of what 
England meant for Englishmen in the days of its greatest 
peril and its greatest glory. Magnificent, magniloquent, 
turbulent, it is starred with glowing phrases as thickly as 
with glowing deeds. " Fear ! I never saw fear : what is 
it ?" " A peerage, or Westminster Abbey ;'' the immortal 
signal ; the famous saying off Copenhagen : " It is warm 
work; this day will be the last to many of us, but I would 
not be elsewhere for thousands;" the pathos of the dying 
lover : " Let my dear Lady Hamilton have my hair ;" 
and the pride of the dying hero : " Thank God, I have 
done my duty " — all these things are the splendid orna- 
ments of a splendid career; they gleam on his story as his 
stars and orders gleamed upon his breast when the " Vic- 
tory " renewed her name. With the battle of Trafalgar 
and the destruction of the allied French and Spanish fleets 
jSTapoleon's dream of England's conquest came to an end. 
The result was bought at a great price, the price of Nelson's 
life. But Nelson had done his work, and done it well. He 
saved his country ; he had deserved well of his countrymen ; 
he summed in himself all the qualities that made the Eng- 
lish sailor the idol of his people and the terror of his foes. 

While Nelson still lived and conquered, there came a 
check to the troubled supremacy of Pitt. In 1801 — when 
the memories of the battle of the Nile and the defence of 
Acre were still fresh in men's thoughts, and Napoleon had 
been for a year First Consul — Pitt, baffled by circum- 
stances, surrendered to mediocrity and Addington was 
Prime Minister in his place. For three disastrous years 
Addington was permitted to prove his incompetency, till 
in 1804 Pitt, as the only possible man, came back to power 
to face a Napoleon more menacing than ever, a Napoleon 
now, in that same year, crowned and triumphant as Em- 


peror of the French. England was Mistress of the Seas, 
but Napoleon was Master of Europe. Pitt's health was 
fading swiftly; he watched with despair the progress of his 
enemy. Ulm came, and Austerlitz, and Austerlitz struck 
Pitt at the heart. 

The closing hours of Pitt's career were as troubled and 
as gloomy as its dawn had been radiant and serene. It 
may have cost him little to be reconciled with the pompous 
mediocrity of Addington, and thereby to placate the King. 
His nature could afford to be magnanimous to the un- 
grateful incompetency that was able only in betrayal. 
It need not have given a pang to that proud and 
lonely spirit to welcome into the Cabinet the Earl of Buck- 
inghamshire, who had wedded the one fair woman whose 
heart Pitt had won and lost. But the anguish of his soul 
was wrung into expression by the fall of Dundas. He had 
loved Dundas, who was now Lord Melville, long and well. 
Lord Melville's conduct as Treasurer to the Navy pro- 
voked from the Opposition a series of condemnatory reso- 
lutions. In spite of all that Pitt could do, the resolutions 
were supported by many of his followers, by many of his 
friends, by one friend conspicuous among all, by Wilber- 
force. The division was neck and neck, 216 to 216; the 
Speaker, " white as a sheet," gave the casting vote against 
Dundas which stabbed Pitt to the core. Whether it were 
or no, as Wilberf orce maintained, a " false principle of 
honor " which led the great minister to support Melville, 
Pitt felt the blow as he had felt nothing before and was to 
feel but one thing again. Pitt pulled his little cocked hat 
over his forehead to hide his tears. One brutal adversary. 
Sir Thomas Mostyn, raised the wild yell of triumph that 
denotes to huntsmen the death of the fox. Another savage, 
Colonel AVardle, urged his friends to come and see " how 
Billy looked after it." But the young Tory gentlemen 
rallied around their hero. They made a circle of locked 
arms, and with looks and words that meant swords they 
kept the aggressors off. In their midst Pitt moved uncon- 
sciously out of the House — a broken-hearted man. 

The heart of Pitt was allowed to feel one pulse of pride 

1806. DEATH OF PITT. 339 

and pleasure before it ceased to beat. Pitt shared in the 
triumph of Trafalgar; he made his best and noblest ap- 
pearance in public; made his last most splendid speech: 
" Europe is not to be saved by any single man," he said to 
those who saluted him at the Guildhall as the savior of 
Europe. " England has saved herself by her exertions, and 
will, I trust, save Europe by her example.'' A few weeks 
later, in the December of 1805, Pitt was at Bath, when a 
courier brought him the news of the battle of Austerlitz. 
The news practically killed him. He had long been ailing 
grievously. Sir Walter Farquhar's account of Pitt's 
health, lately made public by Lord Eosebery, proves that 
the bod}^ which cased that great spirit was indeed a ruined 
body. Grief and anxiety had stamped lines of care and 
sorrow upon his face, which gave it what Wilberforce af- 
terwards called " the Austerlitz look." The phrase is 
famous and admirable, if not exactly accurate as used by 
Wilberforce, for Lord Stanhope shows that Wilberforce 
never saw Pitt after the battle of Austerlitz was fought. 
With the Austerlitz look on his face, Pitt travelled to Lon- 
don, to the villa now known as Bowling Green House at 
Putney. With the Austerlitz look on his face he surren- 
dered himself to the care of his niece. Lady Hester Stan- 
hope, who afterwards lived eccentric and died lonely in 
the East, a kind of desert queen. With the Austerlitz look 
on his face he bade that niece roll up the map of Europe : 
^' It will not be wanted these ten years." With the Auster- 
litz look on his face he died on January 23, 1806. 

England, that had lost in three months Nelson and Pitt, 
was to lose a third great man in only eight months more. 
Pitt's body lay in Westminster; Pitt's Ministry was dis- 
sipated into air; Pitt's great opponent was called to the 
otTice for the last time, and for a very short time. Fox, as 
we are told by his biographer, Lord Eussell, never felt per- 
sonal enmity to Pitt. He said, with generous truth, that 
he never gave a vote with more satisfaction than his vote 
in support of the motion to pay Pitt's debts and to settle 
pensions on his nieces. He could not and did not indorse 
the proposal to confer honor on the memory of Mr. Pitt 


as an " excellent statesman." He was ready to take office 
in the Ministry of All the Talents that Lord Grenville 
gathered together. He became Foreign Secretary and 
Leader of tlie House of Commons. 

Fox, in office as out of office, had three great questions 
closely at heart: the treatment of Catholics, peace with 
France, and the Slave Trade. But Fox in office was 
obliged to face and recognize the difficulties, the solution 
of these questions. He admitted, reluctantly, the inad- 
visability of pressing the Catholic claims at a time when 
such pressure would prove destructive alike to the claims 
and to the Ministry that maintained them. He admitted, 
reluctantly, that the prospect of peace with France was 
very far from hopeful. He still dreamed of a speedy aboli- 
tion of the Slave Trade, and to this end he attended 
Parliament too persistently in defiance of the warnings of 
his failing health. He was tapped for dropsy; his condi- 
tion grew worse; in the evening of September 13, 1806, he 
died. He was the greatest liberal of his age; the greatest 
friend of liberty. The Irish poet bade the Irish banshee 
wail for him on whose burning tongue, truth, peace, and 
freedom hung. 

Fox was not long dead when the Ministry of All the 
Talents found itself in direct collision with its royal mas- 
ter. It had ventured to suggest that it should be permitted 
to Catholics and to Dissenters to serve the King and the 
country in the Army and Navy. This small concession 
was too vast for the bigotry of George. He would have 
none of it, and the obsequious Ministry consented to 
abandon the measure. This was not enough for George. 
He wanted to extract from the Ministry a formal promise 
in writing that it would never submit to the sovereign any 
measure that involved, or was in any way connected with, 
concessions to the Catholics. The Ministry was not obse- 
quious to that ignoble degree. It refused to bind itself 
by any such degrading pledge ; and, in consequence, it was 
turned out of office, and the Duke of Portland and Mr. 
Perceval reigned in its stead. The Ministry of All the 
Talents had lived neither a long nor a useful life. 

1769-1852. ARTHUR WELLESLEY. 341 

Spencer Perceval was an able lawyer, a dexterous debater, 
a skilful Parliamentarian. He was privately an excellent 
man, with an excellence that the irony of Sydney Smith 
has made immortal. He was not quite the man to sit in 
the Siege Perilous that had been occupied in turn by Pitt 
and Fox. He held his office under difficult conditions. In 
1810 the King, whose ailing mind was unhinged by the 
death of his daughter Amelia, lost his reason irreparably. 
Perceval had to fight the question of the Kegency with a 
brilliant Opposition and a bitterly hostile Prince of Wales. 
He succieeded, in the January of 1811, in carrying his Re- 
gency Bill on the lines of the measure proposed in 1788. 
In May, 1811, he was shot dead, in the Lobby of the House 
of Commons, by a madman named John Bellingham, who 
had some crazy grievance against the Government. 

The years from the January of 1811 to the January of 
1820 are technically the last nine years of the reign of 
George the Third; they are practically the first nine years 
of the reign of George the Fourth. The nine years of the 
Regency were momentous years in the history of England. 
The mighty figure of Napoleon, whose shadow, creeping 
over the map of Europe, had darkened and shortened the 
life of Pitt, was still an abiding menace to England when 
the Prince of Wales became Regent. But England, that 
had lost so much in her struggle with the Corsican con- 
queror, who had now no Nelson to oppose to him on the 
high seas, and no Pitt to oppose to him in the council 
chamber, found herself armed against his triumphs in the 
person of a great soldier. 

In the same year that saw the birth of Napoleon, and on 
a date as little certain as that of the conqueror of Europe, 
a child was born to Garret Wellesley, first Earl of Morn- 
ington, in Dublin. The child was a son, the third that 
Anne Hill, Lord Dungannon's eldest daughter, had borne 
to her music-loving husband; the child was christened 
Arthur. Dates as various as May 1, May 6, and April 29, 
1769, are given by different authorities in that very year, 
and the place of birth is as unsettled as the date, Dangan 
Castle in Meath, and Mornington House, Merrion Street, 


Dublin, being the alternatives offered. Very little is known 
about the childhood and early youth of Arthur Wellesley. 
His mother seems to have considered him stupid, and to 
have disliked him for his stupidity. He went from school 
to school — first at Chelsea, then at Eton, then at Brussels 
— without showing any special gifts, except a taste for 
music, inherited no doubt from the father, whose musical 
tastes had earned him the affection of George the Third. 
An unamiable mother decided that he was " food for 
powder and nothing more ;" and when he was sixteen years 
old he was sent to the French Academy at Angers, where 
he was able to learn all the engineering that he wanted, at 
the very same time that the young Napoleon Bonaparte 
was being trained for a soldier in the military college at 
Brienne. Of the little that can be known of the first sev- 
enteen years of Arthur Wellesley's life the clearest facts 
are that his childhood was not happy, that he was believed 
by many to be a dull and backward boy, and that he him- 
self thought that if circumstances had not made him a 
soldier he would probably have become distinguished in 
public life as a financier. 

Circumstance made him a soldier. Through the pat- 
ronage of his eldest brother, who became Earl of Morning- 
ton on his father's death, in 1781, the young Arthur 
Wellesley entered the Army as an ensign in the Seventy- 
third Foot. The same influence that had got him into the 
army aided him to rise in it. When he was little more 
than of age he was captain of the Eighteenth Light 
Dragoons, aide-de-camp to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, 
and member of the Irish Parliament for his brother's 
borough of Trim. In the Irish Parliament he supported 
Pitt's measure to enfranchise Eoman Catholics. It was 
characteristic of the young man that, when once a career 
had been chosen for him, he devoted himself to it with a 
cold, persistent zeal that accomplished as much for him 
as the most passionate enthusiasm would have done for an- 
other. He set before himself the principle that having 
undertaken a profession he had better try to understand 
it, and understand it he did with a determined thorough- 


ness that was rare indeed^ if not "ankno^vn, among the 
young officers of his day. We are told that soon after 
he got his first commission he had one of the privates 
of the Seventy-third weighed, first in his ordinary mili- 
tary clothes, and then in heavy marching order, in order 
to ascertain what was expected of a soldier on service. 
This kind of thoroughness, at once comprehensive and 
minute, distinguished the conduct of his whole career. 
One of the maxims that regulated his life was always 
to do the day's business in the day. Long years later 
he and a friend were driving together along a coaching 
road, and amusing themselves by guessing what kind of 
country lay behind each hill they approached. When the 
friend commented upon the surprising accuracy of his 
companion's guesses the man who had been Arthur 
Wellesley answered : " Why, all my life I have been try- 
ing to guess what lay on the other side of the hill;" a 
stimulating piece of wisdom, to which he himself supplied 
the no less stimulating comment: "All the business of 
war, and, indeed, all the business of life, is to endeavor to 
find out what vou don't know from what you do." The 
youth who took soldiering in this iron spirit must have 
been more than a puzzle to many of his contemporaries, 
whose simple military creed it was that when an officer was 
not actually fighting he might best employ his time in 
drinking and gambling. Young Wellesley fell in love with 
Catherine Pakenham, Lord Longford's daughter, and she 
with him; but the means of neither permitted marriage 
then, and they did not marry until long years later. When 
the war with France was forced upon a reluctant minister, 
Wellesley went to the Continent under Lord Moira and 
saw some fighting. But his serious career began when he 
was sent to India with the Thirty-third Eegiment in 1797. 
It was in India that the young soldier was to learn those 
lessons in the art of war which were afterwards to prove 
so priceless to England, and to gain a fame which might 
well have seemed great enough to satisfy any ambition less 
exacting than his. But he had the generous greed of the 
great soldier, the restless, high-reaching spirit, to which 


the success of yesterda}^ is as nothing save as an experience 
that may serve for the success of to-morrow. No better 
field than India could have been found for a young and 
ambitious soldier who had devoted himself to his career al- 
most by chance, but who was resolved to approve his choice 
by giving to the career of arms a zeal, a stubborn pertin- 
acity, a very passion of patience, rare, indeed, at the time, 
and who was resolved to regard nothing as too great to at- 
tempt, or too trivial to notice, in the execution of his duty. 

After a career of military honor and experience in In- 
dia, Arthur Wellesley began his struggle with Napoleon 
on the battle-fields of the Spanish Peninsula, and ended it 
upon the battle-field of Waterloo. His was the hand that 
gave the final blow to the falling, failing Emperor. The 
career of so much glory and of so much gloom, of Corsican 
lieutenantship and Empire, of Brumaire and Bourbon 
Restoration, of Egyptian pyramids and Eussian snows, of 
Tilsit and of Elba, and of the Hundred Days, ended in 
the Island of St. Helena. There exists among the docu- 
ments that are preserved from Napoleon's youth a geo- 
graphical list made out in his own boyish hand of names 
and places, with explanatory comments. The name of St. 
Helena is on the list, and the only words written opposite 
to it are " Little Island." The Preacher on Vanities never 
had a better text for a sermon. The " little island " that 
had then seemed so unimportant became in the end more 
momentous than the Eastern Empire of his dreams. The 
man who had made and unmade kingdoms, who had flung 
down the crowns of Europe for soldiers of fortune to 
scramble for as boys unto a muss, was now the unhonored 
captive of ungenerous opponents, the unhonored victim 
of the petty tyrannies of Sir Hudson Lowe. 

As the most disastrous event of the reign of George the 
Third prior to the Regency was a war with America, so 
the most disastrous event of the Regency was a war with 
America. Napoleon's fantastic decrees of commercial 
blockade levelled against England, and known as the Con- 
tinental system, had embroiled the young republic and 
England, and differences inflamed by the unwisdom of 

1812-15. THE WAR OF 1812. 345 

Perceval were not to be healed by the belated wisdom of 
Castlereagh. Two keen causes of quarrel were afforded by 
England^s persistent assertion of the right to stop and 
search American vessels on the high seas for British sub- 
jects and England's no less persistent refusal to recognize 
that naturalization as an American citizen in any way 
affected the allegiance of a British subject to the British 
crown. Wise statesmanship might have averted war, but 
wise statesmanship was wanting. The death of Spencer 
Perceval caused the elevation to the premiership of a man 
as incapable as his predecessor of dealing skilfully with 
the American difficulty. Eobert Banks Jenkinson, who 
had been Lord Hawkesbury and who was now Lord Liver- 
pool, was a curiously narrow-minded, hidebound politician 
who had never recovered from the shock of the French 
Ee volution, and who was chiefly conspicuous for his dogged 
opposition to every species of reform. He was five years 
old when the fight at Concord began the struggle tliat 
ended with American Independence, but the great event 
which overshadowed his childhood had no apparent effect 
upon his later judgment. This belated survival of the 
tradition of Hillsborough thought and said that America 
ought to look to England " as the guardian power to which 
she was indebted not only for her comforts, not only for 
her rank in the scale of civilization, but for her very ex- 
istence." Folly such as this could only end in disaster. 
America, believing herself to be deeply wronged, declared 
war on Great Britain in the June of 1812. The war lasted 
more than two years with varying fortunes. Once again 
the scarlet coats of English soldiers were familiar, if de- 
tested, objects to many of the men who had made the Re- 
public, and over bloody battle-fields fluttered that English 
flag which most of those who now opposed it had only seen 
as a trophy of their fathers' victories. Both sides fought 
under heavy disadvantages. If England was weakened 
by her struggle with Xapoleon, America was hampered by 
internal dissensions, by a disorganized army and by a navy 
so small that it might almost have been regarded as not in 
existence. Yet it was this very navy which did most for 


America in the struggle, and dealt England the most stag- 
gering blows inflicted upon her supremacy of the sea. The 
most shameful episode of the whole unhappy campaign was 
when the English General Eoss captured Washington, and, 
in obedience to infamous orders from home, burned the 
Capitol and other public buildings. No more disgraceful 
act stains the history of the time. It proved as impossible 
for England to defend as for America to forget. The war 
ended at last, after the commerce of both countries had 
been gravely injured, in a grotesque treaty of peace, signed 
at Ghent, in which the principal cause of the war, the im- 
pressment of American sailors by English ships, was not 
even alluded to. But as the impressment was abandoned 
by England, the war had not been waged wholly in vain. 

In the year that followed upon the Battle of Waterloo, 
Sheridan died. He had outlived by ten years his great 
contemporaries Pitt and Fox, by nearly twenty years his 
greatest contemporary Burke, and by more than thirty 
years his great contemporary Johnson. The pompous 
funeral that carried his remains to Westminster Abbey was 
the funeral not merely of a man but of an age. He was 
almost the last of the great heroic figures that made the 
eighteenth century famous. He had long outlived all the 
friends, heroes, rivals of his glorious prime: he could talk 
to the children of the dawning century of Johnson, and 
Goldsmith, and Sir Joshua Eeynolds; of Burke, and Pitt, 
and Fox; of poets and painters, players, and politicians, 
who seemed to his listeners to belong to a departed Age of 
Gold. Two years later, in the November of 1818, Eng- 
land, and indeed the whole civilized world, received a sud- 
den and painful shock by the death, under conditions pe- 
culiarly harrowing, of Sir Samuel Romilly, the great law- 
yer, social reformer, and philanthropist. Romilly had 
been deeply attached to his wife, and on her death in Oc- 
tober of that year, it would seem that he must have lost 
his reason, for, in the following month, he committed 
suicide. Romilly was a man of the highest principles, and 
the most austere conscience, and although the loss of his 
much-loved wife must have made the world but a mere 


ruin to him, it is not believed that, if his mind had not 
suddenly given away, he would have done himself to death 
with his own hand. To Napoleon, then fretting in exile 
in St. Helena, the deed appeared to be one curiously char- 
acteristic of the English people. " The English character 
is superior to ours. Conceive Eomilly, one of the leaders 
of a great party, committing suicide at fifty because he had 
lost his wife. They are in everj^thing more practical than 
we are; they emigrate, they marry, they kill themselves 
with less indecision than we display in going to the opera." 
Napoleon was wrong in his estimate of Romilly's age. 
Eomilly was sixty-one when he died. He was one of the 
greatest legal and social reformers of his age. His father 
was a Huguenot watchmaker who had settled in London, 
and the 3^oung Samuel Eomilly had only an imperfect 
education to begin with. By intense study he became pos- 
sessed of wide and varied culture. He studied for the 
bar, became distinguished in Chancery practice, made his 
way in public life, sat in the House of Commons for several 
years, and finally represented Westminster. During suc- 
cessive visits to France he had made the acquaintance of 
Diderot and D'Alembert, and became the friend of Mira- 
beau. He won a noble fame by his persistent endeavors to 
mitigate the cruelties of the criminal laws, to introduce 
the principles of a free country into political prosecutions, 
to abolish the odious spy system, and to put an end to 
slavery at home and abroad. His name will be remembered 
forever in the history of political and social reform. 

The Houses of Death and of Birth were busy for the 
royal family in the closing scenes of the King's tragedy. 
There had been very little happiness for George the Third 
in his long reign and his longer life. His childhood had 
been darkened by the shadow of a family feud that seemed 
traditional in his line. His marriage, indeed, fortunate 
if unromantic, the sequel of more than one unfortunate ro- 
mance, gave him a companion whose tastes were as simple, 
and whose purposes were as upright as his own. But his 
private domesticity was not destined to be less troubled 
than his public fortunes. The grim tradition asserted 


itself again for him whose childhood and manhood had 
heen only too devoted to the influence of his mother. Few 
of his children were a cause of joy to him; some were a 
source of very poignant sorrow. He might have known 
content in a private station under conditions better fitted 
to strengthen his virtues and to lessen the force of his 
defects. If Farmer George had really been but Farmer 
George, his existence might tranquilly have followed the 
courses of the seasons through a prosperous manhood to 
a peaceable old age. But the curse of kingship was upon 
him very heavily, and his later years are very pitiful in 
their loneliness and their pain. Of the course of events 
about him he, in the awful visitation of his infirmities, had 
long been unconscious. Blind and deaf and mad, he seems 
to have been haunted by the ghastly fancy that he was 
already dead. " I must have a suit of black," he is reported 
to have said, " in memory of George the Third, for whom 
I know there is a general mourning." George the Third was 
dead in life, and about him those he loved were dying fast. 
On November 6, 1817, the Princess Charlotte died, the 
only child of the Prince Eegent. She was very popular, 
was in the direct succession to the throne ; she hoped to be 
queen, and many shared her hope. The prisoner of St. 
Helena believed that in her lay his best chance of libera- 
tion. She married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg on 
May 2, 1816, and died after giving birth to a still-born 
child in the following year. She was not quite twenty- 
two years old. The news of her death greatly affected the 
old queen, her grandmother. Her health, that had long 
been weak, grew weaker, and she died on November 17, 
1818. She had lived her simple, honest, narrow, upright 
life for seventy-four years. On May 24, 1819, a daughter 
was born to the Duchess of Kent, the wife of Edward, 
Duke of Kent, the fourth son of George the Third. On 
January 23, 1820, the Duke of Kent died. Six days later 
(he King ceased to exist. He was in the eighty-second year 
of his age and the sixtieth year of his reign. The most 
devoted loyalist could not have wished for the unhappy 
King another hour of life. " Vex not his ghost ! Let 


him pass; he hates him that would upon the rack of this 
rough world stretch him out longer." 

The reign that had ended was certainly the longest and 
perhaps the most remarkable then known to English his- 
tory. The King's granddaughter, the Princess Victoria, 
born so short a time before his death, was destined to a 
reign at once longer and more remarkable than the reign of 
George the Third. The England of 1820 was not nearly 
60 far removed from the England of 1760 as the England 
of the last year of the nineteenth century was removed 
from 1837. But the changes that took place in England 
in the sixty years of the reign of the third George were 
changes of vast moment and vast importance. If Eng- 
land's political fortunes fell and rose in startling contrast, 
the progress of civilization was steady and significant. The 
social England of 1820 was widely different from the 
social England of 1760. The advance of population, the 
growth of great towns, the increase of means of inter- 
course between one part of the country and another by 
highways and waterways, the engineering triumphs that 
bridged rivers and cut canals, the marvels of industrial 
invention that facilitated labor, the patient pains of science 
on the edge of great discoveries, the slowly increasing 
spirit of toleration, pity, and humanity, the gradual spread 
of education, the widening realms of knowledge, the in- 
creasing appreciation of the decencies and amenities of 
life — all these things make the reign of George the Third 
the hopeful preface to the reign of greater length, greater 
glory, greater promise and greater fulfilment that was to 
dawn when two more sovereigns of the House of Hanover 
had ceased to reign over England. If George the Third 
had been a wiser man his reign would have been happier 
for the country he ruled; but the country at least was 
happy in this, that he was, as kings went, and according 
to his lights, a good man. 


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